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Simulating firefighting operations on a PC
Date:1/11/2012

It takes the highest levels of concentration for emergency workers to fight their way through smoke-filled buildings wearing breathing apparatus and protective suits. What is the location of the casualties? Where is the nearest exit, in case the crews need to get to safety? Up to now, they have used ropes to retrace their steps, but these can get caught up or wrap themselves around obstacles. Chalk is used to mark which rooms have already been searched, but these markings are often difficult to see through the smoke. What is needed are new technologies such as sensor-based systems to support the emergency crews during operations where visibility is limited. But such systems, too, carry their own risks: having too much information to hand might confuse crews and be a hindrance. That is why researchers at the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Information Technology FIT in Sankt Agustin have now developed a set of special simulation methods and tools. These will allow emergency services to test technologies in a realistic environment while they are still in the development phase, so they can tailor them to their specific requirements long before they are needed in earnest. It also gives crews the chance to get used to unfamiliar sources of information while on safe ground. The FireSim method kit is made up of four simulation modules.

The first comprises a role-playing board game which emergency workers can use to play out operations. Players move around on a map of the emergency scene, and the new technologies are represented by special tokens. This allows crews to try out new ideas with a minimum of effort.

The second module is like a computer game. Various firefighters each sit at a PC, and on the screen they see the emergency scene from a first-person perspective. The players move through virtual space, opening doors and rescuing the injured, and trying out virtual prototypes of novel support systems such as sensor nodes that mark out the
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Contact: Markus Valle-Klann
markus.valle-klann@fit.fraunhofer.de
49-224-114-2152
Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft
Source:Eurekalert  

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