ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A UNM researcher is continuing his work on life-saving technology for firefighters. It’s an innovative system to guide those first responders around hazards they can’t see, all while they’re busy putting out flames and saving lives.

It’s something that is all too familiar for firefighters. Being inside of a burning building, battling through smoke and flames trying to find their way around objects in order to rescue a victim.

“Due to smoke and due to the fire, the stress level of the firefighter goes really high. He might not be able to do good decision making,” said Manish Bhattarai.

It can be a scary and tense situation for even the most seasoned firefighter. However, University of New Mexico Ph.D. student, Bhattarai, thinks he has the solution.

“It helps them to localize where are the doors, where are the windows, where are the victims, and which of the victims are in need,” said Bhattarai.

 He calls it “Smart and Connected Firefighter System” and Bhattarai says it helps firefighters by avoiding hazards and guiding them towards the safest path.

“Our system processes the data that is collected from the sensors, processes them, and it makes decisions,” said Bhattarai.

How does it work?

Bhattarai says sensors and body cameras will collect data at the scene and then use it to process and calculate the safest route. That information is then relayed to the firefighter through audio.

“What it does in real time it gives GPS directions like go left, go right,” said Bhattarai who says he worked with the Santa Fe Fire Department to collect some of the data being used for this project.
Right now, the technology is still in its developmental stages and the actual equipment itself has not been designed yet.

“In the future, we are hoping to implement a whole lens. Whenever a firefighter goes into a fire environment, he can see this kind of technology on his whole lens,” said Bhattarai.

The project is being funded through the National Science Foundation and Bhattarai says he plans on taking the technology to the legislature next week. He hopes to finish a prototype by end of the year and have the system completely running in two to three years.

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