Firefighting Technology Roundup: Liquid Protection for PPE and More

By Mary Jane Dittmar

Following are some technological developments in various disciplines.

Dual-Action Compound Kills Cancer Cells, Stops Them from Spreading
The first potential drug that can destroy melanoma skin cancer cells in the main tumor and block the spread of the cancer to other sites in the body is described by researchers in “Photodynamic Agents with Anti-metastatic Activities” in the May 2013 edition of the journal ACS Chemical Biology.

Nathan Luedtke and his colleagues at the University of Zurich were looking to improve on photodynamic therapy (PDT), which involves administering a drug that kills cancer cells when exposed to light. PDT works only on the main tumor, not metastases, and has other drawbacks. The researchers say that tests in laboratory mice showed that one compound they synthesized killed melanoma cells and also stopped them from metastasizing by blocking a key signal inside the tumor cells. The compound, the scientists explain, “provides the first example of a preclinical candidate possessing both of these properties.” The Swiss National Science Foundation funded the research. For additional information, contact Nathan Luedtke, Ph.D.; Department of Chemistry, University of Zurich, at Email:

Copolymer for Mobile All-Terrain Firefighting Systems

The MTECH QTAC lightweight fire suppression systems are built for ATVs, UTVs, and light-duty pick-up trucks used in areas difficult to access with full-size fire apparatus. The water tank, which features the Vycom copolymer Hitec, is about one-third the weight of steel and is extremely durable even when subjected to large fluctuations in ambient temperature. Decal graphics can be added to the copolymer material for a custom color combination that will make the systems immediately recognizable. Hitec is highly flame resistant and can withstand temperatures exceeding 500 degrees, is self-extinguishing, and resists corrosive fire retardant chemicals. Additional information is at and

Liquid Integrity Testing of First Responder Protective Clothing

International Personnel Protection, Inc. is leading the “Improved Liquid Integrity Evaluation Techniques for First Responder Ensembles” ( initiative to develop improved procedures for evaluating fire responder barrier protective clothing relative to limiting exposure to hazardous liquids. The Fire Protection Research Foundation (FPRF) is collaborating on the project, which is funded by the Technical Support Working Group of the Department of the Defense’s Combating Terrorism Technical Support Office.

The “shower” test now used involves placing clothing on a mannequin and subjecting it to surfactant-treated water spray from several nozzles over a specified period. This test focuses attention on garment design, particularly closures and interfaces with other clothing items, has been criticized for being overly rigorous, inconsistent, and making it difficult to identify failure modes.

The objectives of the research project is to replace the current test’s subjective determinations of liquid penetration with sensors, to investigate different parameters related to how the test is conducted, and to correlate the observations made in simulated field exposures. An interlaboratory test program will validate test method changes and sensor technology. At the conclusion of the project, the FPRF will recommend that the new test procedures be incorporated into standards such as NFPA 1971, Standard on Protective Ensembles for Structural Fire Fighting and Proximity Fire Fighting, and NFPA 1994, Standard on Protective Ensembles for First Responders to CBRN Terrorism Incidents.  

FIRE-QRVS Service: Real-Time Information for First Responders

Various technologies in the FIRE-QRVS firefighter response verification and fire department management system work together to improve safety and efficiency, according to Thuh Company. Created by firefighters, the system complements existing paging and 911 dispatch systems. FIRE-QRVS integrates computer systems, mobile smart phone apps, text messaging, GPS, and Internet technologies and is especially well-suited for departments that are largely comprised of volunteers or composite members.

When a fire department responds to an incident, Fire-QRVS provides real-time information regarding which personnel are responding, their estimated time of arrival, detailed information about the incident site (including on-screen maps), and driving directions. The system also includes comprehensive incident/management reporting capabilities for complete accountability and visibility of all activities for historical and analytical purposes. Additional information may be obtained from Kenneth Grisham at (888) 618-5030. 

Biological Cleanliness at Crime Scenes, Trauma Sites

 Charm Nova-Link portable adenosine triphosphate (ATP) fluorescence testing units are now part of Aftermath Inc.’s biohazard remediation teams. The units make it possible to measure and confirm biological cleanliness at scenes where there have been unattended deaths, violent crimes, or suicides. Customers can access readings before and after the cleaning service is completed. The Novalink ATP device measures cellular energy molecules that indicate the presence of organic material.  


Mary Jane DittmarMARY JANE DITTMAR is senior associate editor of Fire Engineering and conference manager of FDIC. Before joining the magazine in January 1991, she served as editor of a trade magazine in the health/nutrition market and held various positions in the educational and medical advertising fields. She has a bachelor’s degree in English/journalism and a master’s degree in communication arts.

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