Today, firefighters serve increasingly as first responders for emergency medical calls, civil emergencies, terrorist threats, and hazardous materials incidents, in addition to fire emergencies. The fire service needs tools and technologies that aid in carrying out their ever expanding mission without increasing costs. My research is focused on working with the fire service to achieve this important goal. I am conducting research on fire department mobilization times and exposure of fire fighters to toxic gases. I work with a team that developed and will commercialize a tool that will predict the time remaining till flashover in real time on the fire ground and continuously inform the incident commander. I am directing a multi-year study to determine the best procedural standards and resource allocation to significantly reduce loss of life and property for both firefighters and civilians. We are conducting this work in concert with the International Association of Fire Fighters, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the Urban Institute, and the Center for Public Safety Excellence with funding from the Department of Homeland Security. Our goal is to enable government agencies and local jurisdictions to establish optimal resource allocation to improve economics, responses, and outcomes. We are working with more than 400 fire departments, compiling detailed demographics of each, along with a database of hundreds of thousands of fire department deployments and outcomes that will be analyzed statistically. The results of this study will save countless firefighter and civilian lives.
NBC 10 (Boston) and sister station New England Cable News featured research by WPI Fire Protection Engineering in this report. Fire Protection Engineering Associate Professor Kathy Ann Notarianni told the station that while the protective gear the firefighters wear has improved, the hoses are virtually the same as those used a half-century ago.