Firefighters put their lives on the line in some of the most dangerous conditions on Earth. One of their greatest challenges, however, is seeing through thick veils of smoke and walls of flame to find people in need of rescue. A team of Italian researchers has developed a new imaging technique that uses infrared (IR) digital holography to peer through chaotic conflagrations and capture potentially lifesaving and otherwise hidden details. The team describes its breakthrough results and their applications in a paper published February 26 in the Optical Society’s (OSA) open-access journal Optics Express.
Firefighters can see through smoke using current IR camera technology. However, such instruments are blinded by the intense infrared radiation emitted by flames, which overwhelm the sensitive detectors and limit their use in the field. By employing a specialized lens-free technique, the researchers have created a system that is able to cope with the flood of radiation from an environment filled with flames as well as smoke.
“IR cameras cannot ‘see’ objects or humans behind flames because of the need for a zoom lens that concentrates the rays on the sensor to form the image,” says Pietro Ferraro of the Consiglio Nazionale delle Ricerche (CNR) Istituto Nazionale di Ottica in Italy. By eliminating the need for the zoom lens, the new technique avoids this drawback.
“It became clear to us that we had in our hands a technology that could be exploited by emergency responders and firefighters at a fire scene to see through smoke without being blinded by flames, a limitation of existing technology,” Ferraro says. “Perhaps most importantly, we demonstrated for the first time that a holographic recording of a live person can be achieved even while the body is moving.”
FEMA will be reducing its state and local grant funding by more than $100 million, a cut necessitated by the sequestration order signed on Friday.
In a letter sent today to grant recipients, David J. Kaufman — acting assistant administrator for the grant programs directorate — said the sequestration will affect FY 2013 funding levels for all GPD grants, subject to FEMA’s final FY 2013 appropriation. This will result in a reduction to FEMA’s State and Local grant funding levels of approximately $104 million. Sequestration will not affect grants or cooperative agreements awarded in previous fiscal years.
In August 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011 to limit federal spending and reduce the national debt. That law requires sequestration, or across-the-board funding reductions, totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The cuts would be split evenly between defense and domestic discretionary spending.
“We recognize the hardships that sequestration is likely to cause and thank you for your cooperation as we work together to manage these unfortunate circumstances,” Kaufman wrote. ”
Each year in the United States, approximately 100 firefighters pay the ultimate price in their service to the community. Thousands more are injured. While some of these deaths and debilitating injuries are unpreventable, there are many that can be avoided – with your help!
Among the greatest dangers faced by firefighters and other public employees is the inattention and carelessness of motorists near emergencies and work zones. The Los Angeles Fire Department wants you to be aware of the danger faced by your first responders, and to adopt two simple driving habits:
- In California and many parts of North America, the law requires motorists – if safe to do so – to slow and/or move to an adjacent lane for emergency personnel, transportation maintenance workers and tow operators working on or near the highway (in lanes or on the road shoulder).
Members of the fire and emergency services regularly face a variety of daily stressors that can have lasting effects on their mental and emotional well-being. Tragically, some do not receive the help that they need to adequately deal with these issues and turn to suicide. With generous support from the United States Fire Administration (USFA), the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) developed a comprehensive report addressing suicide in the fire and emergency services.
In conjunction with the report, the NVFC also facilitated an informational webinar featuring the authors. The webinar examined the report’s content and explored the survey results in-depth. Click here to view the webinar recording.
Top commanders from the Los Angeles city and county fire departments are exploring ways to connect their dispatch systems and ensure that the closest available rescuers are sent to victims during life-threatening emergencies, according to interviews and records obtained by The Times.
The fire chiefs from county, city and Glendale fire departments recently met to discuss creation of a regional network that would automatically deploy fire and rescue units based on their proximity to an emergency, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries, according to L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.
“We began the process of identifying subject matter experts within the communications and dispatch community and to seek other agencies regarding multi-agency dispatching,” Osby wrote in a report to the county Board of Supervisors.
NEWTOWN — Sandy Hook’s firefighters are a pretty tight-knit bunch even in the best of the times.
In the face of the most evil of circumstances, they’re finding solace and comfort where you might expect them to: in their bonds with each other and the stunningly positive outpouring of support they’ve received from fellow firefighters — and regular people — across America.
“It’s our community, and I think it’s hit everybody hard,” said Kelly Burton, 20, a firefighter for the past five years — and an alumna of Sandy Hook Elementary School, whose mother works at the school and survived Friday’s unimaginably horrific shootings.
Burton is one of four women and three members of her family on the Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company, which numbers more than 50 people and is right at the end of the access road leading from Riverside Road to the school.
“I think that everybody, we’re healing together — and everyone is finding someone to lean on,” Burton said. “It’s a very close firehouse. When you’re on a fire department, it’s a second family.”
A period of time has passed since the East Coast was devastated by the effects of Hurricane Sandy, but the cities and towns most devastated – along with the first responders that serve them – continue to work toward recovery with each passing day.
Many of these relief efforts are being driven by the region’s committed career and volunteer firefighters, whose own departments are in need of help, as well, with the toll the storm took on their facilities, clothing and other equipment that was damaged from flooding or due to its extensive use in response efforts.
LION is pleased to announce the recent donation of thousands of items valued at more than $125,000 to the Long Island area’s first responders, with distribution assistance provided by the Long Beach Fire Department, one of the fire departments who absorbed significant storm damage. LION’s donation includes items such as fire retardant shirts, cotton shirts, pants, lined coveralls, fleece vests, jackets and structural firefighting gloves to replace gear that might have been ruined in the recovery efforts.
Fire departments that experienced the loss of or damage to emergency facilities, emergency vehicles, firefighting equipment, and other emergency equipment or personal protective gear due to Hurricane Sandy may be eligible to receive FEMA Public Assistance funds to aid their recovery. FEMA’s Public Assistance Grant Program provides assistance to State, Tribal and local governments, and certain types of private nonprofit organizations for debris removal, emergency protective measures, and the repair, replacement, or restoration of disaster-damaged fire stations, as well as emergency equipment, gear, and emergency vehicles.
A fire captain from Irving, Texas, recently wrote to me about a growing problem: Thieves are stealing brass Fire Department Connections and building placards and selling the pieces to scrap-metal recycling centers.
Such thefts are becoming a problem across the country. Chicago Fire Department Chief Michael Fox said FDC brass connections have been stolen, missing or vandalized from more than 200 buildings in Chicago. The department searched for solutions and opted for a product that can be carried on an engine and fitted quickly.
“It’s been a terrible problem,” Fox said. “We’ve applied for a grant to buy two adapters for each engine.”
That solution — the Speed Swivel — was developed by Mike Cornelius, a retired Phoenix fire captain who saw the problem with stolen or missing brass fittings from buildings and set out to create an adapter that firefighters could easily carry on their vehicles and quickly connect to the building or hydrant. Cornelius product, “speed swivel,” is an adapter that attaches to the vandalized FDC and replaces the connector. He started marketing his Speed Swivel last January and has been pleased with the response.
Seat belts are sparsely used among firefighters en route to emergencies because of the inconvenience and difficulty to put them on while in full protective gear, according to fire officials.
But Prince George’s County has become one of the only nationwide jurisdictions placing new emphasis on firefighter safety.
The College Park Fire/EMS Station has retrofitted a fire engine and ladder truck with ReadyReach seat belt systems, and a second fire engine is in the process of having one added. The safety belt system extends seat belt straps for firefighters to easily put on even when in full fire protective gear and is located outside and above the seat, as opposed to behind it.
The College Park station became the first in Prince George’s to have the seat belt system when it was installed last month through a father-son firefighter connection.