FIREFIGHTING TECHNOLOGY

Firefighting and fire prevention are areas of activity that seem to be special beneficiaries of aerospace spinoff technology. In recent years, for example, aerospace technology has been productively transferred to such civil use applications as portable firefighting modules; protective outergarments for workers in hazardous environments; a broad range of fire-retardant paints and foams; fireblocking ablative coatings for outdoor structures; shearing tools for rescue work (see page 62); and a number of types of flame resistant fabrics for use in the home, office or public transportation vehicles.

The City of Chicago is taking advantage of NASA's expertise in this area. Under an agreement concluded in April 1995, NASA and the Chicago Fire Department (CFD) will work together to apply aerospace technologies to improving CFD's firefighting and other emergency services.

A number of candidate activities have been identified for joint study. CFD's principal interest is in developing a personnel locator system that will enable on-scene fire officials to locate, track and, if necessary, rescue firefighters within a 2,400-foot radius of operations.

Another area of CFD interest is adapting NASA dynamic structural analysis techniques to determine if a structure is in imminent danger of collapse. Studies have indicated that there is a "signature" change prior to collapse of a building and it might prove feasible to develop a device that could monitor the signature in real time, providing fire officials a means of determining when firefighters should be evacuated from a troubled structure for their safety.

CFD is also interested in developing a new, portable, firefighter's airbreathing apparatus that would be less costly, lighter and allow longer use time. NASA and CFD will explore the possibility of applying space-derived liquid air technology to an advanced breathing system.

Other research possibilities include identifying the location of an emergency 911 call made from a cellular phone, and developing the capability to warn hearing-impaired drivers of an approaching emergency vehicle. MSFC is already working on such an Emergency Vehicle Alerting System (EVAS), a device that would assist drivers with hearing loss and those operating in a high-noise environment - a school bus full of children, for example. The EVAS would not only alert the driver, it would also provide information on the emergency vehicle's distance and direction of approach.


SPINOFF 1995 TABLE OF CONTENTS


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