Squad Positioning System Could Save Firefighters' Lives

The Squad Positioning SystemThe Squad Positioning System

This is a pretty nifty gadget.  I'm not the only one who thinks so.  Inventor Roy Hareguna qualified as a finalist in the Australian Design Awards for his design.

Navigation in a building of any size is difficult during a fire due to dense smoke (not to mention flames) blocking the vision of firefighters.  Couple these issues with the intensity of the situation and the potentially unknown layout of the environment, and you can see that even the most trained firefighter could have a difficult time.

Squad is a positioning system specifically designed for indoor use by firefighters.  It utilizes a duel mapping system consisting of an internal sonar unit and multiple repeaters that connect each Squad unit to each other as well as to an external command center.

Squad provides a mini-map for each firefighter via sonar and shows the positions of other firefighters in the area.  The internal repeaters join together to form a comprehensive map of the area, each unit building data from the transmissions of the other units.  All of this information is transmitted to the command center to aid in coordination of the fire fighting team via radio.  All of the collected data is recorded and can be used to review performance of the operation at a later time.

When designing the system, Hareguna knew he would be dealing with an environment of intense heat.  The body of the unit needed to be capable of handling such harsh conditions.  The outside of the unit is made of polyetheretherketone polymer that has a melting point of 662ºF.  An aluminium carabiner frame provides a strong internal structure, and this is augmented with an overcoat of fluorosilicone to make it impact- and water-resistant.

Because of this sturdy design, a Squad unit can be attached anywhere on a fire suit that the firefighter feels is the most convenient.

I think this is a great idea.  I have friends who are firefighters and have the utmost respect for their bravery.  The only way you'd get me into a giant fire is if I somehow accidentally started it myself, or I had to save my girlfriend, my cat, or my comic book collection.  Yes, I'm a geek.

I put the "running into a fire" thing along the same lines as "jumping out of a plane."  If I have to do it due to circumstance, then I'll go.  But voluntarily?  Nope.

So the way I see it is that any device that can save a firefighter's life, or make him/her more efficient at saving the lives of other, is a good thing.  And the concept and design of the Squad Positioning System is great.

SOURCE: Australian Design Award