Fire Department Tests New Sensor Tech to Find People in Burning Buildings

Reno Fire tested SimpleSense sensor technology to find people in buildings during emergencies. Image: City of Reno.
Reno Fire tested SimpleSense sensor technology to find people in buildings during emergencies. Image: City of Reno.

The Reno Fire Department last week held a search simulation to assist in finding people in buildings when visibility may be limited, such as in fires and other emergencies.

SimpleSense grew out of the Switch / University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center last year and was tested at that location on Saturday.

“Over my career, we’ve greatly improved how we get to an incident with better maps, routing and laptops in our fire trucks,” said Steve Leighton, operations chief with the Reno Fire Department, who set up the test. “Our primary concern on every incident is life safety, and that means our main job is to rescue everyone who is in the building. We embrace any tools or technology that helps us do that job better.”

The test had two “victims” inside the building who were located by first responders within four minutes using SimpleSense as opposed to 16 minutes it would take to manually locate the individuals.

The company is running tests in schools, university campuses, and offices buildings across the U.S.

Rosanne Catron, co-director of the center, said: “We help startups develop their … ideas as quickly and effectively as possible, so they can run out of the lab and into the real world. SimpleSense was part of our first cohort. It’s exciting to see their ideas improving big public safety problems.”

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