Intelligent Infrastructures for First Response

Helping out those who help us

A UC Berkeley project known as FIRE—the Fire Information and Rescue Equipment technology system—will help increase the safety and efficiency of firefighting and other emergency first response activities. Fire accounts for more deaths in the United States than all other natural disasters combined and destroys more than $10 billion worth of property each year. Improved search and rescue and communication methods are a national priority.

Discussions between CITRIS researchers and with professional firefighters have revealed a crucial gap in current technology: the ability to track personnel and conditions spatially during search and rescue operations.

The primary goals of the FIRE system are to improve the safety, efficiency, and effectiveness of urban/industrial firefighting and emergency response.  Information and communication are implemented through a three-part system: the SmokeNet wireless sensor network (WSN), the electronic Incident Command System (eICS), and the FireEye Head-Mounted Display (HMD).  Research has been ongoing in each of these areas to understand responder needs and how to best design a system to meet these needs.  Already, researchers have conducted interviews and usability tests.

The enhanced information and communication features of the FIRE system have the potential to reduce injuries and save lives. The trends of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, and other large scale incidents are only increasing in severity as society becomes more complex. Buildings are becoming larger and more difficult to evacuate and weather is becoming more extreme with global warming. The FIRE system technology will address societal wellbeing by advancing discovery and understanding for applications in firefighting, disaster response, law enforcement, and security.

Next Steps:
Research will be conducted to improve incident remote sensing, information collection, routing, information access, and visualization to help allow more effective decision-making and navigation capabilities in a complex indoor environment.