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Fire forecast could help to save lives

Today's firefighters have to rely on their instinct and experience when they tackle a fire within a building. However, if they knew how the fire would develop it would be possible to fight it in a more efficient and safer way. A recent development by a research group from the University of Edinburgh could bring this solution. The so called "˜Sensor Assisted Fire Fighting' uses simple sensors that could be placed in appliances, like fire detectors, CCTV cameras or temperature sensors.These sensors collect data about the flame temperature as well as its height.  A computer simulation then predicts how the fire will develop in a real time fire forecast. This could save valuable time for the firefighters to prepare for the fire`s next move.The supervisor of the research project, Dr. Guillermo Rein of the School of Engineering, said that:  "This technology could give them (firefighters) the extra information they need to consider more options available in handling the emergency, and reduce lost opportunities or unnecessary risks, ultimately saving lives and minimizing damage."

However he concluded that this study on its own cannot yet be used in practice. Further studies are needed to make the simulation as realistic as possible. This means the software has to be able to consider a variety of changes like the breaking windows which can rapidly change the possible outcome.The research was published in the  Fire Safety Journal and was funded by UK Technology Strategy Board and the European Union.

Thilo Reich

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