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2002-2003

U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and John Kerry Announce Million for Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Funds to be used for firefighter safety technology

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE/February 14, 2003
Contact: WPI Media Relations, 508-831-5616

February 14, 2003 - U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA), Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) and John Kerry (D-MA) today announced that they have secured $1 million for Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) for a Firefighter Locator System. This system will be used to develop a system to locate, track and monitor the physiological status of firefighters, police, EMTs and other public safety personnel during an emergency.

After the December, 1999 warehouse fire in Worcester, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in a subsequent review of the tragedy, recommended the following: "Manufacturers and research organizations should conduct research into refining existing and developing new technology to track the movement of firefighters on the fire ground."

The funds announced today are included in the Fiscal Year 2003 Omnibus Appropriations bill.

"I'm so pleased that we were able to secure this funding," Rep. McGovern said. "We know all too well in Worcester the importance of state-of-the-art technology for our firefighters and other safety personnel. And WPI is the perfect place for this kind of groundbreaking research to take place. For several months, I've been urging Congress and the Administration to pay more attention to our first responders - to make sure that homeland security starts with hometown security. These federal funds represent a step in the right direction."

"Firefighters are on the front line in our nation's fight against terrorism, and we need to do everything we can to assist them," Senator Kennedy said. "While the President shortchanged funding for first responders across the country, I am happy that we have been able to secure this assistance."

"I cannot think of a better way to honor the memory of the six Worcester firefighters who gave their lives in the line of duty in December 1999 than funding research to find new ways to guide searchers in locating firefighters in trouble," Senator Kerry said. "This funding will help discover new ways to help our firefighters do their jobs more effectively and safely."

In 2000, Kerry successfully included an amendment in the Fire Administration Authorization Act of 2000 which authorized a $1 million fire research project at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in honor of the Worcester firefighters. This legislation was signed into law by President Clinton in November 2000.

"We appreciate the opportunity and the confidence the government has put in us to develop lifesaving technologies for firefighters, police officers and other first responders," added WPI Associate Provost and Vice President for Research William W. Durgin. "This is a wonderful application of WPI's expertise in wireless geolocation technologies. It brings our faculty's knowledge to bear on what has been a difficult problem for emergency personnel. The researchers in our Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Fire Protection Engineering departments can't wait to get started."