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Improved Workplace Safety for Rescue Workers

Freie Universität Berlin Heads Research Project to Increase Safety for Firefighters

№ 142/2008 from May 22, 2008

Das Projekt „FeuerWhere“ soll die Arbeit der Brandbekämpfer sicherer machen
The project "FeuerWhere" aims to increase safety for firefighters.Source:

The Berlin Fire Department responds to 300,000 emergency calls annually, whereby the lives of firefighters and rescue workers are often in danger. Researchers of Freie Universität Berlin and the Leibniz Institute IHP – Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics are working to develop a state-of-the art wireless sensor network that would enable faster localization of firefighters and rescue workers in a burning building, as well as the monitoring of their vital data in order to more quickly recognize potential threats to their health.

The researchers receive support from MSA AUER GmbH, Nanotron Technologies GmbH, MPA Technologies Ltd., and TimeKontor AG. Cooperation with the Berlin Fire Department is intended to ensure that the new system will be practical and usable.

Firefighting, in particular, is a very high-risk occupation, and firefighters often work at their physical limits. When the smoke is very heavy, they are practically blind while searching buildings. For orientation purposes, there is seldom more than a sketchy building plan. The operational management receives its information from maps and radio telephone, and using this fragmentary information, can only roughly gauge the positions of the workers as well as their physical condition.

Technology also reacts very sensitively to the adverse conditions such as flue gas, heat, and steam. The sensor network must be successively built up during an operation,  dynamically adjusting itself to the environmental conditions and the constantly changing radio links. One major objective of the research project is to develop technology for tracking rescue workers inside buildings in cases where systems currently in use, such as GPS, fail.

This research project is headed by Freie Universität Berlin. Working closely with the Berlin Fire Department should ensure that the results can be put into practice and tested in realistic scenarios. Nanotron Technologies will be contributing its nanoLoc radio technology based on the chirp principle as the basis of the tracking procedure. Freie Universität is contributing the ScatterWeb sensor network technology and, in conjunction with the MSA Auer company, will be integrating the individual components into one complete system. The Leibniz Institute IHP has experience with radio technology suitable for near-body usage.

The project "FeuerWhere" is funded by the German Aerospace Center in the amount of 3.6 million euros. The German Federal Ministry of Education and Research is also supporting the project until June, 2010, in the amount of 2.4 million euros.

Further Information

Project Participants:

  • Freie Universität Berlin (Coordination), Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 838-75131
  • Berlin Fire Department, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 387 10 930
  • IHP – Innovations for High Performance Microelectronics , Tel.: +49 (0)335 / 5625 204
  • MSA AUER GmbH, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 6886 1305
  • Nanotron Technologies GmbH, Tel.:  +49 (0)30 / 399 9540

Associated Partners:

  • MPA Technologies Ltd. (Israel)
  • TimeKontor AG, Tel.: +49 (0)30 / 390087-0

Additional information may be obtained from:

Michael Baar, Project Coordinator
Institute of Computer Science
Freie Universität Berlin
Telephone: +49 (0)30 / 838-75131