Fire Protection Research Foundation and NIST Announce “Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting” Summary Report

The Fire Protection Research Foundation (Foundation), the research affiliate of the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have jointly announced the release of “Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting,” an extensive summary report that establishes the baseline for incorporating existing and emerging technologies and “sensor rich” data into fire fighters’ and other emergency  responders’ work.

“While the fire service and emergency first responders are already benefiting from today’s enhanced technologies and access to ‘big data,’ that existing level of access and usage merely reflects the tip of the iceberg,” said Casey E. Grant, executive director of the Foundation. “Our ever-increasing sensor-rich environment is continually generating vast amounts of potentially useful information, so that the ‘smart’ firefighters of tomorrow will be able to perform their work more effectively and efficiently than ever before.”

With those emerging technological advances and access to data come questions about how to best exploit the deluge of valuable information in the context of fire fighting. The “Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting” summary report begins to answer those questions.

“The roadmap will help to focus resources on research efforts that will enable timely and effective communication and information delivery to fire fighters when they need it,” said Anthony Hamins, chief of NIST’s Fire Research Division. “Leveraging today’s communication, computing, sensor and networking technologies and growing on-line collections of useful data can greatly improve capabilities–both in preventing and fighting fires.”

The report also addresses the power to compute and communicate data; the knowledge base and algorithms to most effectively process and convert it into significant knowledge and beneficial decision tools; and effectively communicate that information to those who need it – on the fire ground and elsewhere.

“What many people are calling the ‘Internet of Things’ may be the beginnings of a new revolution in technology,” said NIST’s Albert Jones, an operations research analyst. “The growing and ever-improving connectivity between the cyber and physical worlds presents tremendous opportunities for reducing the national fire problem.”

In 2013, NIST provided funding to the Foundation to develop the “Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting” report and engage in outreach to build relationships with the CPS (Cyber Physical Systems) community. Over the past two years, the Foundation worked in coordination with NIST and multiple experts to develop the project’s findings.

“There is such an overwhelming amount of data and technology swirling around the professional community that will dramatically reshape and redefine the way the fire service and emergency first responders do their jobs in the years to come,” said Grant. “It has been a true honor engaging the fire community and experts in the CPS field on this timely project, collaboratively working to ensure that we proactively address fire fighting and emergency responder safety in the new millennium.”

The “Research Roadmap for Smart Fire Fighting” summary report can be downloaded for free. NFPA’s Smart Fire Fighting page offers a wealth of additional resources and information on this topic.



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