There is a lot more to firefighting than meets the eye. The technology of fighting fires – whether residential, industrial, or wildfires – is in constant motion, based on the latest advancements available.
So what do the coming decades have in store for effective fire suppression, and how will it impact the safety of firefighters and the general public? Take a look at some developing advancements in fire suppression technology that could change the way we look at firefighting in the future.
It may seem like the stuff of science fiction, but the science to fight fires with sound exists. Two George Mason University engineering students have invented a system that extinguishes flames through bass frequencies. According to the Washington Post, Viet Tran and Seth Robertson developed their senior project all around the idea of using an amplifier, mobile sound generator, focusing tube, and power source to put out fire with sound waves. The experiment works; now it is just a matter of time before the technology is available to the masses and adaptable to different sizes and types of fires. Whether sound waves will be able to address every instance of fire still remains uncertain, but the technology certainly has significant potential.
One of the largest obstacles facing firefighters is visibility through flames and smoke. That lack of visibility is not just a nuisance; it’s dangerous, and sometimes fatal. Finding ways to keep firefighters safe through increased visibility has always been a goal in the industry, and there are some promising devices appearing on the market to do just that. One is the C-Thru smoke diving helmet that makes it easier for firefighters to identify their surroundings and search for victims in smoke-filled areas. It uses a wire frame and also simplifies the layers of heat protection into a lighter, more agile design.
The helmet includes communication equipment that enables firefighters to talk with each other in dangerous, flame-filled situations. That communication equipment also records what is being said for better record keeping and training purposes. By having a better grasp of the surroundings in a fire, any fire, and the ability to seamlessly communicate with colleagues, suppression is made easier and firefighter safety is improved.
The smaller a fire, the easier it is to suppress. Cutting-edge fire alarm systems not only alert firefighters to the need for their help, but help keep civilians safe. Many security systems in homes and businesses are now cloud-based and easier to install and use, and the same is true for fire detection devices. Slippery Rock University in Pennsylvania recently made several fire detection and suppression upgrades, including replacing old copper phone lines used in fire notification to fiber optic cables. It also has an updated intercom system that alerts people on campus to any emergency. Instead of sprinkler systems, the upgrades include a chemical fire suppressing agent that will not damage technology when dropped in areas of need – potentially saving the school thousands in fire damage costs.
Advances in communication technology have and will continue to benefit the field of fire suppression. Being able to track where firefighters are located through advanced GPS systems, and improving communication with widely-available sound equipment makes the job of fire suppression safer. Technology advances also make firefighting more effective and take some of the guesswork out of the process.
Nothing will ever be able to replace a strong, capable firefighter in the field – but advancements in fire suppression equipment and technology certainly elevate the work these property and life savers do. Whether a small house fire, or a blazing wildland fire, fire suppression technology of the future is here, and means higher safety levels for everyone.