Tracking Firefighters Through the Smoke

BY News Desk  January 16, 2012 at 11:00 AM EDT


Locating a missing person inside a burning building filled with blinding smoke can be tricky and extremely dangerous. University of Maryland firefighters are trying something new, science correspondent Miles O’Brien reports in this National Science Foundation* Science Nation piece: a sensor system that tracks first responders while they’re moving inside burning, smoky buildings.

While firefighters move through the smoke, computers follow them on an electronic map.

“If my firefighters get in trouble and need help, it’s going to cut my time down to about a tenth of what it takes to go in there now and do a blind search,” said Ray Hodgson of the Maryland Fire and Rescue Institute.

For the record, the National Science Foundation is an underwriter of the NewsHour.