Government launches firefighter safety technology contest

Entries must provide tracking technology to monitor staff inside buildings

A £1.25m competition to develop tracking technology to allow UK fire and rescue services to locate staff during emergencies has been launched by government’s innovation agency Innovate UK with Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service.

The competition seeks to tackle the problem that emergency services are currently unable to accurately monitor and track staff once they are inside a building responding to an emergency. 

The winning ideas will allow real-time tracking of firefighters’ precise location using 3D data such as augmented or holographic technology showing, for example, the room they are in and the floor they are on. Applicants will also need to develop technology that allows for the data to be shared between agencies and that can be deployed instantly at unfamiliar locations. 

“Recent tragic incidents, such as the Manchester Arena bombing and the Grenfell Tower fire, have brought into sharp contrast the extremely dangerous and complex environment firefighters and emergency responders operate in,” says a statement on the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service website. 

“Post-incident enquiries and reviews have consistently highlighted weaknesses in communications and the ability to seamlessly receive and share real-time operational information to support decision making and capture information to inform post-incident review, investigation and learning,” it says. 

The competition has two phases. The first, worth £250,000, will fund up to five feasibility study projects and the second, worth up to £500,000, will award the two best projects with further contracts to develop a prototype. Organisations of any size can apply for a share of funding to develop their ideas.

The funding was made available through Innovate UK’s Small Business Research Initiative. 
Innovate UK is part of the UK Research and Innovation, a non-departmental public body funded by a grant-in-aid from government.

Sam Trendall

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