Thermal TrackKing

We constructed an IoT and analytics device that helps keep fire fighters safe while on duty.
Context

Thermal TrackKing is a hackathon project I developed during HackRiddle 2017.

HackRiddle 2017 is a 24-hour hackathon at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, FL. HackRiddle 2017 took place the weekend of Saturday, November 11th to Sunday, November 12th.

Inspiration

Thermal TrackKing is a concept I came up with after interviewing a few Firemen.

Firefighters are provided with protective clothing that is designed to protect its wearers from the thermal environments experienced during firefighting. However, protective clothing may respond differently to the transfer of heat, and firefighters may receive serious burn injuries due to these transfers of heat, even if they maintain a significant distance from the physical fire.

The reason being, their protective clothing has certain physical limits in its ability to protect the wearer. All thermal protective clothing have these limits, and these limits are measurable, but a firefighter may not recognize these critical limits until he is already experiencing a burn injury.

Thermal TrackKing was created upon reflecting on the conversations I had with the Firemen. After these conversations, it was evident that there was two glaring, concurrent themes in all the discussions: 1) Individual Selflessness, and 2) Pride.

Individual Selflessness

First, Individual Selflessness. One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone. When speaking with the Firemen, it was obvious to us that these were words they lived by.

Every story they told us had the same theme: “We were told there was someone stuck in the building, so we went in.” We asked, if they ever worried when doing so. We were always met with the same response. A resounding “No, we’re just focused on getting the person to safety.” This concept resonated with our team. These men were running into absolute danger and the only thing running through their mind was the safety of a complete stranger.

Pride

Second, Pride. Many of the firefighters spoke of what they called “the unwritten rule of shame.” Firefighters work as a unit. So, when they enter into a building, they have to do it as a unit. The same goes with exiting the building. When one firefighter leaves, the whole team has to exit with him.

Firefighters tend to suffer burns when their protective clothing’s limits reach their peak. The Firefighters explained that many times they would know they were getting burned, but simply pushed through the pain as they did not want to be the one responsible for making their entire unit turn back, ultimately placing themselves and the unit in a difficult position when the burn injuries start to become more severe.

What Thermal Trackking Does

These two themes are the crux of our concept.

Thermal TrackKing is a protective layer of clothing with sensors that track the rising level of heat within a firefighters clothing.

When surrounding heat levels begin to reach a critical temperature, the sensors inside Thermal Trackking send a message to a control hub. This message alerts the firefighters team to the situation so they can search and rescue the endangered firefighter, while also alerting other members of the team that it is time to leave the building as a unit.

This method takes pride out of the equation, thus eliminating the “unwritten rule of shame.” When one team member reaches critical levels, LED strips on all the team members arms will light up. Those that are not at a critical point will light up green, while the individual facing potential burns will light up red. This allows the team to make a quick decision as a whole and keep each other safe.

In addition, if a captain has a missing firefighter, they are unaware if that firefighter is alive or deceased. To solve this, Thermal TrackKing contains a heart rate sensor that aids the captain in knowing when to send other fire fighters on a search and rescue or a search and recovery mission. The captain has access to all the fire fighters vitals from Thermal TrackKing through a dashboard, which include a heart rate sensor, and multiple temperature sensors placed on the most important areas of the fight fighters suit.

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