Fire Protection Research Foundation receives major grant for research in support of fire service

Published on August 2, 2011
Three-year study to focus on Personal Alert Safety System

August 2, 2011The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF), an affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), was awarded $835,000 in a Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from the Emergency Preparedness Directorate of the Federal Emergency Management Agency of the Department of Homeland Security to conduct a new research project in support of the fire service. The three-year study on “Evaluation and Enhancement of PASS Effectiveness” will provide a needed comprehensive review of PASS (Personal Alert Safety System) technology and recommend improvements.

PASS is a critical tool for today’s fire service to locate a firefighter in trouble during fire and rescue conditions. “Firefighters stand to benefit greatly from valuable research made possible through this grant,” said Kathleen Almand, executive director of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. “Ultimately, work conducted in this project will lead to a higher level of fire safety for members of the fire service as well as for the general public.”

The project funded by the grant will examine ways to improve the safety of distressed firefighters engaged in structural firefighter operations. PASS devices are designed to alert aid for firefighters using audible signal technology. Although in widespread use, there is variability of certain existing performance characteristics that should be standardized, and clear opportunity to further enhance existing PASS technology (i.e. addressable identification embedded in signals or simple receivers to more quickly locate fallen firefighters.)

This project will establish a scientific basis for the optimum PASS signal performance characteristics to improve the technology behind this essential piece of firefighter protective equipment. The work will be led through a collaborative arrangement involving researchers at the University of Texas-Austin and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), under the direction of the Fire Protection Research Foundation. Also, fire service partners with this project include the following fire service organizations and fire departments:

  • National Volunteer Fire Council 
  • Glendale (Ariz.) Fire Department
  • Metropolitan Fire Chief Association
  • Austin (Tex.) Fire Department
  • NFPA Fire Service Section
  • Portland (Ore.) Fire and Rescue

The three-year project is slated to be completed by July 2014.

About the Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF)
The Fire Protection Research Foundation plans, manages, and communicates research on a broad range of fire safety issues in collaboration with scientists and laboratories around the world. The Foundation is an affiliate of NFPA.

About the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA)
NFPA is a worldwide leader in fire, electrical, building, and life safety. The mission of the international nonprofit organization founded in 1896 is to reduce the worldwide burden of fire and other hazards on the quality of life by providing and advocating consensus codes and standards, research, training, and education.  

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