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8 November 2006 PR 06/128

New communication system could help save firefighters’ lives

A new communication system which could revolutionise the way we fight fires is being developed by Loughborough University.

The FireSafetyNET (Secure Adhoc Fire & Emergency NETwork) project will involve the use wireless technology to give firefighters accurate information about the buildings they are called to, including details on whether people are trapped inside and if it is safe for them to enter. It is hoped the system will drastically reduce the risk of injury to firefighters when they attend an incident, as well as reducing the number of fatalities from fires.

Researchers in the University’s Department of Computer Science and Business School are leading the project. Over the next three years they will be developing a high-tech communication network, which will connect buildings, such as flats, offices and hospitals, with firefighters, and their head quarters.

Dr Shuang-Hua Yang, who is leading the research at Loughborough University said: “Fire is a major cause of human suffering and material loss. According to Home Office figures, every year there are more than 40,000 accidental house fires in England, resulting in about 285 deaths and 9,000 injuries. Clearly anything that can be done to reduce these figures would be beneficial.

“At present when firefighters first arrive at a building fire, for example, they have very limited information about the structure, its occupants or the location of the hazard. They do not know if they need to enter the building, whether it is safe to enter and how to most efficiently deal with the hazard. FireSafetyNET will provide an information structure to enable buildings, firefighters, fire tenders, and their control centre to efficiently communicate during emergency situations.

“To do this it will use sensor networks, wireless communications, DAB (Digital Audio Broadcasting) and 3G technologies to gather togther the most up-to-date information about the situation, providing a much more detailed picture for the firefighters on the ground. This system will be particularly effective in high occupancy buildings, such as offices, flats or hospitals, where it is difficult to determine if people are still inside.”

The £1.3 million FireSafetyNET project is being funded by the DTI and industrial partners. For further information about the research visit: http://www.FireSafetyNet.org.uk

ENDS

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Notes to editors

1.FireSafetyNET is a consortium project. The following organisations are involved in the research:

Loughborough University
Data Cables Services International
Pera Innovation
Jennic
Sure
Arqiva
Electronics Line
Association for Specialist Fire Protection (ASFP)
Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service

2.Loughborough has an established reputation for excellence in teaching and research, strong links with industry, and unrivalled sporting achievement. Assessments of teaching quality by the Quality Assurance Agency place it in the top flight of UK universities; the National Student Survey ranked Loughborough equal first among full-time students; and industry highlights the University in its top five for graduate recruitment. Around 40% of Loughborough’s income is for research, and 60% for teaching. The University has been awarded five Queen's Anniversary Prizes: for its collaboration with aerospace and automotive companies such as BAE Systems, Ford and Rolls Royce; for its work in developing countries; for pioneering research in optical engineering; for its world-leading role in sports research, education and development; and for its outstanding work in evaluating and helping to develop social policy-related programmes.

In 2006 Loughborough celebrates the 40th anniversary of its University Charter, awarded on 19 April 1966 in recognition of the excellence achieved by Loughborough College of Advanced Technology and its predecessor Colleges. Loughborough University of Technology was renamed Loughborough University in 1996.

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