The rugged, lightweight helmet currently under development features a suite of sensors capable of gathering data for heart rate and skin temperature, an accelerometer, and GPS. Bluetooth Low Energy, a wireless personal area network, is used to transmit health data to the firefighter’s phone. The project team is also investigating technologies to transmit data in real-time to off-site crew supervisors. By utilizing a firefighter’s previous health history and the data gathered in real-time, in conjunction with machine learning, students aim to predict and prevent heat exhaustion, heat stroke, and dehydration for firefighters working in the field.
“With the emerging technologies we see coming out of universities and industry, it makes sense for us to take a closer look at what’s possible, and what could be possible in the future to support our firefighters’ wellbeing,” said Russ Lane, assistant wildfire division manager for the Washington Department of Natural Resources. “There’s a lot of opportunity for technological innovation in the work we’re doing, and a public-private partnerships like we have here with GIX and Vulcan are a step in the right direction.”
“The western US has experienced some of its warmest temperatures on record in the past 15 years. With the severity of the fires we see increasing, and 54% of firefighter deaths since 2000 caused by overexertion or stress, it’s apparent that resources should be dedicated to exploring the creation of technologies that help keep the firefighters who protect our families, homes, pets, and natural resources safe,” said Chris Emura, executive director of engineering at Vulcan Inc. “We’re excited to see where the students end up with this project and what we can all learn from it.”