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).
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?


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

Views: 5456

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Bzy, this is exactly the thinking and process that brings about good change in our service. I like the idea. Why not integrate the radio as two way. Communication with the FF and IC is important. One less thing to hold onto.
I Like it BZY!
Hola Carlos! Se ha pasado mucho tiempo desde que hemos hablado a través de la FFN. Utilizando los avances tecnológicos para mejorar la seguridad de los bomberos siempre será menos dinero y RECURSOS dedicado a un bombero herido. Tengo la esperanza de algún día poder visitarla a usted ya su país como un maestro, compartiendo mi experticia con las inspecciones de incendios código de las empresas del motor, se centra en el almacenamiento de materiales peligrosos uso y transporte. También me encanta enseñar hospital de materiales peligrosos materia de formación para los hospitales para que sepan cómo cuidar de nosotros debemos estar lesionada o expuesta. como siempre, quiero saber cómo puedo ayudarle. im retirado y sin duda tiene el tiempo! estancia hermano seguro, CBZ
02. Trials Complete
Testing in Hothead Technologies Heat Room
Exceeds Expectations

In the spring of this year, 343 Technologies participated in a trial that helped Hothead Technologies better understand how their H.O.T. System would monitor firefighters under heated conditions while in full gear.

Michael Bentley and one of his fellow firefighters reviewed the software program that tells them when a firefighter is overheating and in the danger zone of possible heat stroke. The trials were conducted in a custom-designed heat room at the Hothead Technologies facility. Temperatures were run well above 100 degrees while the test subject walked on a treadmill.

Looks like someone has already been looking at doing just that Moose... :D CBz

"We were really impressed with how accurate the temperature readings were," said President and Founder of 343 Technologies, Michael Bentley. "This is exactly what we as firefighters need on our side to give us another set of eyes when we're saturated by heat and smoke in extremely hot fire fighting conditions."

The 343 Technologies team has continued it's pursuit of making the H.O.T. System a valuable tool for fire fighters by conducting test at the Georgia Fire Academy with overwhelming and positive response by other fire fighting leadership.

Early Warning: The transmitter, battery and antenna fit inside a headband in a helmet.Photo courtesy of Hothead Technologies and Technology Review.

If this thing weighs an ounce, I would be very surprised... Additional information:

The new device consists of a rugged and highly sensitive sensor encased in a helmet cushion, with the probe pressed against the wearer's forehead in the vicinity of the temporal artery. Temperature readings are beamed to a PDA held by a coach or trainer on the sidelines via a short-range wireless link.

Heatstroke sets in when body temperature hits 106 °F, leading to neurologic dysfunction. In extreme cases, it can lead to death. But an athlete's temperature will often climb above 100 °F and then dip down, so software on the PDA monitors the pattern of temperature change. If the wearer's temperature reaches 102.5 °F and stays there for more than 20 seconds, an alarm goes off. "We're looking for the guy who's hot and isn't cooling down," says Jay Buckalew, Hothead's founder. A database on the PDA stores each player's data, including his temperature readings, medical history, and emergency contact information.

Buckalew, a former communications-equipment salesman and installer, says that he became obsessed with the problem after passing out while installing equipment on a brutally hot rooftop in Puerto Rico several years ago. "It became apparent at that time that we needed a technology that could at least offer an early-warning system," he says. "You get in these closed, confined areas and get hot, and you can black out."

Hothead worked with GE Sensing & Inspection Technologies to develop the temperature sensor and radio-transmitter tag. "What Hothead had worked out was a communications scheme with the coach's PDA, to signal when a player is getting into trouble," says Harry Perrine, a GE engineer who worked on the project. "The biggest challenge was how to isolate a signal that could be indicative of the player's condition with a wide range of variables--you could be playing in Wisconsin, or in Arizona at 100 degrees." The sensor itself uses standard off-the-shelf technology, but it needed to fit within a helmet cushion and survive impacts. "We solved those issues in the packaging," Perrine says.

Hothead's broader goal is to supply heat-sensor devices to military and industrial customers. To do this, the company is working on winning environmental and safety certifications. Meanwhile, Hothead is already tapping the football market, partnering with helmet manufacturer Schutt Sports on a helmet system that costs $99 per player, and will reach the market in April.

Buckalew says that the sensors and radio transmitters can be retrofitted to many kinds of helmet. And the company is developing a headband version that can fit under all kinds of headgear. It may offer individual units that could, for example, deliver warnings directly to marathon runners.

Testing of the device is under way in an academic lab and should be published in a peer-reviewed journal in the coming months, Buckalew says. In the meantime, the company claims that in its own testing, the temperature recorded by the unit is accurate to within 0.5 degrees of the wearer's actual temperature.

I really don't think weight will be the issue nor anything else because it's no different that wearing a sweatband. The only difference is that this one can give you a warning if you get too hot, potentially having issues with the heat.

Don't be fooled by the stats that I have provided so far as far as only one firefighter in the study suffering from a heat related injury. Think about it, only one injury reported... I think not. Give me a chance to do some more research to make my point that there was more than just one person who has died due to serious heat stroke.

And as far as cost, does anyone realistically think that the costs associated with preventing heat stroke at $99.00 per person is significantly less than a workers compensation claim or wrongful death suit.

and prevent something like this from happening... hence my personal passion for this project... Firefighter Masto was just a kid... Any efforts to prevent this type of needless death is worthwhile, right?

Firefighter Steve Masto

On August 27, 1999 the Santa Barbara City Firefighters suffered their greatest loss. Stephen Joseph Masto died while fighting the Camuesa fire in the Los Padres National Forest. The fire that burned 180 acres was brought under control the next day. Not a particularly exciting fire. Not at all worth a life.

Steve was assigned as a line medical provider and died of apparent heat stroke while scaling a deep ravine. It was his first wildland fire with Santa Barbara City Fire.

Steve had joined the fire department earlier that year and had quickly won over the hearts of even the most stoic firefighters. His infectious smile, great attitude, general love of the job and life were evident each day. His road to the City had been long and he had brought a great deal of experience to us.

I took an immediate liking to Steve. We had worked together a lot at station 2. He had quickly learned the job and was well on his way to a successful career. Unfortunately things went dreadfully wrong that day and his career was cut short. I just wish we could have changed things.

It was a series of mistakes, one cannot be singled out. But, the mistakes compounded and he paid the ultimate price. We had sent him to the fire and he did not return. Many of us still have guilt about the way it occurred. Many of us still feel responsible. I guess that is human nature. All of us wish we could go back to that day to just change one thing. But we cannot and we live with that each day.

His picture hangs above the door to the apparatus bay at station 5, a gentle reminder for all of us to be careful. His badge number is affixed to helmets, uniforms, turnouts, gear lockers and badges. People have pictures, his business card and other reminders in their clothes lockers. He is still here at SBFD. We are doing our best to keep him alive in our hearts.

A special award is given to firefighters for valor. The Stephen J. Masto Valor Award is given to firefighters when someone goes beyond the call of duty. The award is in the main hallway at Station 1. To our firefighters, his name stands for bravery and dedication. However, he is sorely missed.

We miss Steve. We miss Lisa. We miss the Masto Family. We hope they are doing well.

Chris Mailes
Captain, Fire Station 5, B shift
You are confusing concerns for:

1) Practicality
2) Cost
3) Weight
4) It actually working in the environment we operate in
5) Safety concerns because of the environment we work in

with negativity for the idea. They are not the same thing.

I believe that we should embrace technological advances that work. The only way to know if they work is to take it past the idea stage, to the prototype stage, to the testing stage, and if it works the production stage.

I am all for things that make the job, safer, easier, and more efficient. BUT call me a cynic if you must but I have seen a ton of things come and go that were the next best thing.

The loss of Steve Masto is a tragedy and your passion to prevent a reoccurence is commendable. My concerns and questions about this particular idea in no way demeans Firefighter Masto's memory.
Ok, so now we have clarified that both of us are on the same page... :D

Here's my take on how things will end up with the issues (1-5) as noted above. Regardless of how anyone feels, and whether or not they can afford the new modifications that will be developed and offered, industry will continue to create a better mousetrap so to speak. Large departments like mine will continue feeding the beast with designated / budgeted money always being set aside for replacement of existing PPE and SCBA's.

In litigious California, as soon as new changes are made, and if it can be demonstrated that those changes make the environment or the protection of the firefighter safer, then there is a damn good chance that the additional costs for the changes will never be a factor.

So how does this affect you and your department? By the time you get around to making your purchase(s), the PPE and other accessories will be enhanced from what you have because the design and what is available is driven by the demand to make their product safer. To not use the latest and greatest safety equipment, when the department knew about it and had money budgeted for replacement... bla, bla, bla... You get the point. Legal concerns from what I have seen working as a department logistics officer and being involved in purchasing over 1-million dollars worth of SCBA's or fire apparatus gives you an awareness because so many vendors want to make that sale.

So don't worry about cost or technology advancing past what you can afford. Things change so fast that what we thought was cutting edge is called old school one-year later. When changes such as enhanced remote sensing become actually operational and proven to be both safe and reliable as well as being minimally intrusive then we will see these changes.

The future will give us a simple head sweatband style unit that literally works as a sweatband but also has the detector mounted that is placed right over the temporal artery. I wear a bandana myself to keep the sweat from getting into my eyes. Maybe the sweatband approach will prove to be the cat's pajamas... Only time will tell.

Thank you for your cynicism and comments. We are on the same page but have different ways of looking at things. This is what makes a final product invaluable. Pro's and con's are weighed and a fair, reasonable, well thought out decision will result because folks like you take the time to question things. Don't stop brother.

And as far as cost, does anyone realistically think that the costs associated with preventing heat stroke at $99.00 per person is significantly less than a workers compensation claim or wrongful death suit.

Here, here! The first succesful lawsuit for heat stress injuries or fatalities will be wwwwaaaayyyyy more than the cost of retrofitting entire departments....
I had no idea they only cost $99. When you first started this thread (mike) I was picturing a device that would cost a dept like $1,400 per helmet with remote monitoring stations and the sensor installed, and the subscription service for the transmitter and receiver to monitor the firefighters wirelessly...you all know how much the electronics guys try to take us for with this because they KNOW that we can get grants, so they try to get as much money as they possibly can.
But this is not bad, this can be done. Is this price for the sensor only or for the units to monitor the firefighters with as well?
Not totally sure at this point but the cost of the technology is pennies compared to costs of an injured firefighter. The first step here is awareness. Now we just wait as these new safety tools slowly come into play.
I agree, I was never against spending money for the safety of firefighters, I was merely complaining about the possible costs this would run. Im still trying to get our department to buy a new TIC, and a gas monitor, we have neither. So trust me, I understand!! LOL
Meanwhile, technology keeps on consistently moving, just like our bowels... Pun intended that will make more sense after reading this...

For the past month, college football players across the sun-baked south have been wearing special headbands and swallowing a small pill-like sensor – both contain mini thermometers. They read the body’s temperature which is transmitted to a hand-held monitoring device. If the player's body temperature peaks above 102.5 degrees, an alert goes off warning trainers and coaches.
CorTemp, which makes the pill-sensor, says about 10 NFL teams, more than a dozen colleges and some high schools are using it or have used it in the past. Each little pill costs about $40 and although they can be reused, they typically are used only one-time because of sanitary concerns.

That’s a lot of money to smaller teams when you factor an additional $2,500 for the hand-held monitoring device.

The headband and sensor for helmets is made by Hothead Technologies. It seems to be a more reasonable option for smaller budgets. The first 50, along with the hand-held monitoring device, cost $5,000. But after the initial costs, additional headbands retail for just $10 each. The company that makes them says they are durable, reusable and more affordable.

But McDermott says although it is early in his study, he is concerned with how the headband sensors perform in reading accurate body temperatures. The concept of ingestible sensors has been around longer and they are widely used in the NFL and by college football programs with big budgets. However, smaller schools such as UTC, with limited resources, cannot afford the expensive technology and are testing the headbands inside players’ helmets.

McDermott wants to compare the temperatures recorded by the pill against those from the new temperature-measuring headbands to see if smaller schools are using a reliable technology to prevent heatstroke.

So... Giving things time here, and seeing that the headband replacement costs are as low as ten dollars, the weight is questionable and the benefits of having something that is an early warning system could save a firefighters life, like the PASS device that no one even thinks about anymore. I see this new safety tool and some of the associated sceptisism as being no different than firefighters wearing gloves, scba's or hoods. It's just the evolution of the fire service. This post will be fun to reflect on in a few years when we can look back and shake our heads asking why this was ever even questioned.

Reply to Discussion


Find Members Fast

Or Name, Dept, Keyword
Invite Your Friends
Not a Member? Join Now

© 2022   Created by Firefighter Nation WebChief.   Powered by

Badges  |  Contact Firefighter Nation  |  Terms of Service