Robotics for Reducing Firefighter Injuries: Now and Potential

Issue 5 and Volume 164.

BY MARIE THOMAS AND PHILIP SCHAENMAN According to the National Fire Protection Association, in a typical year, about 25 percent of firefighter line-of-duty fatalities are caused by heart attacks, including overexertion; 21 percent die trapped by fire; and 18 percent die from collapses and unrecoverable injuries resulting from fire-damaged floors and obstructions. There are also tens of thousands of strains, sprains, and other injuries every year, many from lifting hoses and carrying heavy objects. Many firefighters get cancer or other ailments from coming into contact with carcinogens or poisonous gases and chemicals. Many avenues for reducing firefighter deaths, injuries, and exposures are being explored. The U.S. fire service, however, has largely overlooked one area that has potential to help achieve these goals. That area is robotic technology, which has become a hotbed of activity in other nations. (1) Anna Konda (Norway). (Photo courtesy of SINTEF.) This situation is particularly ironic…

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