This Device Helps Firefighters See Through Smoke

Growing up with tornados in the Midwest and then moving to California to experience first-hand the Loma Prieta earthquake, nothing frightened me more than the potential for wildfire—yet I precariously chose to live in the mountains—no more. I moved from California in 2018, just six months before the Camp Fire. My children (adult), still living in Paradise, CA, battled their way off the mountain, as, thankfully, so did all my friends.

All I lost was a house to the fire—they had to deal with the horrible trauma.

My admiration and respect for firefighters couldn’t be higher, and I was thrilled to see a technology that could be an invaluable tool for them—this one for indoor use.

A helmet-mounted indoor visualization and navigation device allows first responders to see through dark smoke. The Department of Homeland Security says it may soon be available to fire departments nationally.

The Department’s Science and Technology Directorate is opening applications for fire departments to apply for the technology developed by startup Qwake Technologies and the DHS through a 2020 contract to develop fire safety technology. Called C-THRU, there are 400 prototype devices available for fire departments to apply for.

Hands-free, lightweight, and featuring a high-speed thermal camera mounted to the device, it provides a clear, real-time view of an environment and helps reorient firefighters with navigation for backtracking via turn-by-turn guidance. A mayday function alerts other C-THRU wearers to find distressed first responders when necessary.

If you know firefighters, pass the word.

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