Heat Stress Prevention: Why not apply this technology to fire helmets?


Firefighter's attack a fire inside a locomotive... Think it gets a little hot inside?

Smart Football Firefighter Helmet Monitors Body Temp, (and could) Saves Lives


Heat stroke kills players firefighters every year. But a new helmet gives coaches firefighter's a novel sideline monitoring system.
The greatest danger that football players firefighters face is a [insert something else here like heart attacks, asphyxiation, internal trauma, burns, drowning, HEAT STROKE, asthma attack or getting shot ] bone-crushing hit, right? But the stats tell a different story: Since 1995, 39 football players firefighters, most in high school, have died of heat stroke. And it's not the province of psycho coaches in Texas either: In 2001, Minnesota Vikiings lineman Korey Stringer died, with a body temperature of 108.8 degrees. Now take that same individual playing football and put that person into a firefighting situation that could involve structure fires, motor vehicle fires, wildland fires or any arduous activity that occurs in high temperatures that much of the United States is currently encountering.
In the last decade (1), of the 40 firefighters who died on the fireground, 13 succumbed to heart attacks, 8 were asphyxiated, 7 died of crushing injuries, 5 died of internal trauma, 3 died of burns, 1 drowned, 1 died of heat stroke, another died during an asthma attack, and 1 was shot. Nineteen of the victims were volunteer firefighters, 15 were career firefighters, 4 were contractors with wildland agencies, 1 was a career federal forestry agency employee, and 1 was a seasonal state forestry agency employee.
As Popular Science reports, a new football helmet could finally end those tragedies so...
Why not apply this technology to fire helmets?
Hothead Technologies invented the Heat Observation Technology (HOT) system, an in-helmet temperature monitor that will alert coaches when a player is overheated. Inside the helmet's padding, near the players temporal artery, the monitoring comes from a thermistor, whose electrical resistance varies with temperature. (Which sounds fancy, but almost all metals have that property; thermosistors merely have a more regular resistance pattern, which is easier to model.) A built-in radio transmits temperatures to a PDA monitored on the sidelines. Hothead, apparently, is "as accurate as a rectal thermometer" but obviously far more useful to football players (and firefighters).
References
1. NFPA's files on fatal injuries to on-duty firefighters are updated continually for all years. The current total of 95 deaths for 1996 is three more than the number identified in the July/August 1997 issue of NFPA Journal.
2. For this report, the term "volunteer" refers to any firefighter who isn't a full-time, paid member of a fire department. The term "career" refers to full-time, paid fire department members or employees of career organizations whose assigned duties include firefighting.
Refresher Training: What is the difference between Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke?

 

Refresher Training: What has NIOSH recommended to prevent Heat Exhaustion and Heat Stroke?


Refresher Training:

 The apparent temperature is how hot the heat-humidity combination makes it feel?


We are in the 21st century where technological advances and miniaturization of circuits and radio transmitters makes things like this possible. If a football coach can monitor a football team, then can't a Safety Officer do the same? Any monies spent on this type of technology being made available to high school football teams should be adapted and made available for firefighters.



Firefighters safety is paramount and using a tool such as this that can warn supervisors that one of their own is in danger seems like an obvious thing to do, at least it does to me. Passive systems with GPS monitors and vital sign monitoring should one day be the norm verses my suggesting it here on the FFN. 



What do you think?


CBz


"Failure to prepare is preparing to failure, be prepared..."


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Could this technology be applied to FF helmets? I would think so, but would the cost be too great to make such a helmet unaffordable?

Big difference when talking millions of dollars for a single sports team and players and communities looking for the lowest bid.

This may come to fire helmets,(here's to hope) but the realist in me doesn't see this in the near future anytime soon.
Just to clarify things... High School football teams are making use of the technology and they don't have millions of dollars, right? Looking at the technology, it does not seem like a tough transition from a football helmet to a firefighter helmet. Who knows, maybe this could spark something very cool!
I guess it would also depend on the high school as well Mike. I do know of some pretty affluent high schools with well funded boosters.


Although from a long term standpoint, the question comes up as for durabilty of the transmitter etc, holding up to heat/fire conditions, as well as the cooling product. Another aspect is the potential for cancer links. I know there are plenty of studies and the like with cell phones and links from radiation and I know there are many folks walking around with a phone in their ear, but not everyone does either.

Just bringing up other questions here, not shooting the idea down.
No problem John. This is how things get done, or at least changed. Not sure if the transmission issues are the same as cell phones but it's a great question and thought. More research...
The one major factor I see in this is obviously the costs. A regular helmet today will set you back $200-500 depending on model and type, add this technology and...

I would love to see this tech used on firefighters, but obviously the focus today is more on the guy making millions of dollars to play a game in front of people...I think everyones priorities are way out of focus today, especially knowing that someone either fresh out of high school or a high school drop out standing on the road with a bright orange flag all day makes more money than an EMT riding an ambulance, or a police officer being shot at. The people that determine where the money goes just do not think we are important enough I guess and its sad...

I hope someone makes this tech available for us and makes it durable, safe and AFFORDABLE, this would bring us a long way as far as safety.
I just checked out Hothead Technologies (they make this system) and they can retro-fit it into any type of helmet. They are already touting it to Fire Depts and the Army. Maybe it will be with us sooner than you think.
The software displays the wearers ID as well as any known medical conditions, could be useful with some of us "old farts" around!
To me the biggest issue, even moe than cost is weight. To me all the safety stuff, like impact liners have added substantial weight to helmets and if this adds more than a few ounces I would opt out given the choice.
Yea.. but your old like me, and your number of years of active service are limited. But take a younger more agile firefighter who will be far more active and statistically get themselves into more intensive firefighting I predict will have no problem with additional monitoring devices that will eventually include as a standard helmet design; camera, thermosensors and GPS. With things getting more and more miniaturized, the weight issue will be minimal if even detectable... pun intended.


As for weight, nothing can beat the LACOFD Squad 51 style fire helmet that was light / no frills. But that was then, and this is now... Sigh...
Yeah, I started with one of those. I saw one fall from the roof of a 2 story house and shatter like an expensive glass vase. I ordered my leather helmet a couple of days later!
Good stuff Mike! Be interesting to see if this sort of stuff really takes off in the emergency services???? Sadly I think "old school" thinking (cost, weight, changing helmet designs and styles, etc) will possibly hinder the introduction....
How is concern for the WEIGHT of a helmet "Old School?" I quit wearing a Sam Houston helmet because of the weight. I now wear traditional looking plastic helmets because of less weight and more comfort.

Also, COST is an issue. If the standard plastic traditional helmet costs around $250 dollars now how much more is your FD willing to pay to get this technology? $50? $100? $200? How much before the budget just says no more? Reality is many smaller rural FDs struggle for every penny and while all the technology can make the job safer, if you can't afford it it might as well not exist.

I am all for change and innovation when it is practical, makes the job safer, better, easier, and it actually works. I am just as adamantly opposed to change that is none of the above and is nothing more than somebody's idea of the next best thing. If this head cooling temperature thing can be proven practical, and it works, AND it is affordable, I say go for it.
Here is another concept along the same lines that could be integrated into bunkers

http://www.health-wear.eu/index.php?pg=1&LANG=en

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