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Smart Fire Fighting refers to all areas of fire protection engineering and fire service emergency response. All phases of these endeavors (i.e., pre-incident, during-incident, and post-incident) are addressed. The idea of Smart Fire Fighting is to exploit fully the power of information to address the nation's fire problems through enhanced data gathering, data processing, and targeted communications. Smart Fire Fighting will transform traditional fire protection and fire-fighting practices to ensure the flow of critical information where and when it is needed.
An evolving range of databases and sensor networks will be tapped to create, store, exchange, analyze, and integrate information into critical knowledge for the purpose of Smart Fire Fighting. Engineering, developing, and deploying these systems will require new measurement tools and standards. Information will come from many sources: from the community, from building occupants, from the building itself, and from fire fighters. Data from the community could include information about traffic, weather, police, and hospitals. Information from the building could include annotated computer-aided design models or blueprints about the architecture, materials, and utilities, and details on fire-related building sensors and equipment. Occupants might be able to provide information about the number, age, and condition of people in the building and any relevant health issues. At the first indication of a fire incident, the incident commander (IC) could use information from these repositories to plan an initial strategy for suppression and rescue and alert the necessary community services. That strategy would include the number and types of equipment and personnel needed at the fireground and the tactics that should be executed when they arrive.
Once the equipment and personnel are on scene, a temporary wireless network could be set up, deploying a number of different sensor technologies to obtain a comprehensive and accurate assessment of the evolving situation on the fireground. The sensors and the network would continue to operate as needed throughout the entire event. This streaming, real-time information would be transmitted to the IC, who would develop an operational plan as appropriate and issue commands to personnel. Personnel would be equipped with a variety of sensors, providing real-time data about their own conditions, their locations, the growth and spread of the fire, and suppression/rescue operations. The sensor-related data would come in three possible forms: text, audio, and video. The IC would use computational tools to integrate this information and update the operational plan as needed.
To update the operational plan, the IC would create and run a series of computational models of fire growth, smoke generation, structural integrity, evacuation, suppression, ventilation, environmental conditions, air and water supply, tenability, and resource allocation. Each of these models would access repository and sensor information as needed; integrate, process, and analyze that information; and return predictions or results of other models, which then would provide inputs for the IC to use in decision making. As additional real-time information is collected, it would automatically update the models, outputs, and predictions.
The outputs and predictions from those models could be used in multiple ways. In some cases, such as fire growth, the outputs and predictions could be sent directly to personnel at the fireground or to other community services. If the model were to predict that the fire might spread into a portion of a building where toxic compounds are known to be stored, the model could be integrated with a smoke-generation model and a weather model to predict the likely impact on the surrounding community. That information then would be sent directly to law enforcement agencies and local hospitals to enable planning for a potential evacuation and treatment of victims. In most cases, model outputs and predictions would drive real-time 3D visualization of the fireground, equipment, and personnel. The IC would use the display to monitor the evolution of the fire incident and to analyze the potential impact of decisions and actions before issuing any commands to personnel. The visualization then would be recorded for future analysis, lessons learned, and training.