In 2010, Q-Track undertook an internal R&D project to begin developing a Firefighter Location And Rescue Equipment (FLARE) system with advice and input from the Huntsville Fire Department. On August 3, we participated in a firefighter rescue exercise at the 2010 WPI PPL Workshop. The exercise required guiding rescuers to a """"""""lost"""""""" firefighter in a multi-story building - an exercise so challenging that only three entrants fielded systems and neither of the two vendors with """"""""commercial"""""""" firefighter location systems on the market who attended the workshop submitted systems for evaluation. Q-Track's FLARE prototype system yielded a seven minute rescue - faster than the nine and twelve minute times from the two state-of-the-art inertial systems entered for testing at WPI. Our success was featured in the Boston Globe and fire safety trade press. Lacking funds to continue development, Q-Track had to place the project on hold. Q-Track seeks funds to implement a new proof-of-concept system to overcome the weaknesses identified in our initial effort. The present opportunity defies the current paradigms of inertial tracking and high-frequency, short-wavelength wireless location in a centralized command and control architecture. We propose to apply Q-Track's innovative, low-frequency, long-wavelength NFER RTLS to the challenging problem of firefighter location awareness with a decentralized system enabling individual self-rescue and guidance even without communications. Q-Track's proposed FLARE effort begins with setting specifications. Then, we will use our existing NFER RTLS hardware to implement a prototype FLARE system. We will collect RF response data for an NFER (""""""""FLARE"""""""") proof-of-concept traversing a building and employ the data sets to develop an """"""""RF breadcrumb"""""""" algorithm. The RF breadcrumb algorithm collects and compares sequential RF response data from the FLARE tag to identify when one tag is following the path of another. This innovative approach enables a rescuer to be vectored to the precise location of a disabled firefighter along the same path originally taken by the firefighter in distress, thus avoiding the conventional problem of homing in on a firefighter from the wrong side of a wall. Q-Track further aims to develop a proof-of-concept audio user interface to provide firefighter guidance and location awareness. Finally, Q-Track will complete a proof-of-concept demonstration and produce a short video demonstrating system performance for submission with our final report. Our objective is to demonstrate the ability to reliably vector a blind-folded rescuer to the location of a FLARE tagged individual along the same path taken by the first individual, or to enable a blindfolded and disoriented individual to retrace their entry path out of a facility.
Q-Track proposes to significantly enhance firefighter situational awareness and safety by merging a breakthrough, near-field, low frequency approach to wireless location with an innovative RF breadcrumb algorithm. The proposed system will enable a rescuer to be vectored to the precise location of a disabled firefighter along the original path of the fireighter in distress, thus avoiding the problem of attempting to route rescuers through walls.