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Reno Fire Department tests new sensor technology to find people faster in an emergency

Post Date:08/06/2018 11:23 AM

The Reno Fire Department performed a test on Saturday, August 4, 2018 at the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center. Two teams of firefighters tested new sensor technology that potentially helps them find people faster in an emergency.

SimpleSense, a startup that grew out of the InNEVator accelerator last October in Reno, developed these sensors to assist firefighters in what’s called the primary search.

“Over my career, we’ve greatly improved how we get to an incident with better maps, routing and laptops in our fire trucks,” said Steve Leighton, Operations Division Chief with the Reno Fire Department, who set up the test. “Our primary concern on every incident is life safety, and that means our main job is to rescue everyone who is in the building. We embrace any tools or technology that helps us do that job better.”

The primary search is the best chance for firefighters to find anyone trapped inside a burning building, and involves quickly searching as much of the building as possible to locate anyone still inside.

In the test, SimpleSense helped firefighters find two victims inside the four-story building in four minutes, compared to 16 minutes using current procedures. With fires burning hotter and faster due to new building materials, this time difference is a major improvement.

“The Reno community has been very supportive of us, giving lots of feedback and even showing up with fire trucks,” said Eric Kanagy, CEO of SimpleSense. “It’s great to be part of an ecosystem that supports entrepreneurs and our crazy ideas.”

Rosanne Catron is co-director of the InNEVator accelerator, an Internet of Things (IoT) eight-week program that brought SimpleSense to Reno. Catron said, “We help startups develop their IoT ideas as quickly and effectively as possible, so they can run out of the lab and into the real world. SimpleSense was part of our first cohort. It’s exciting to see their ideas improving big public safety problems.”

John Abbey, a retired police chief with 30 years of law enforcement experience, mentored SimpleSense as they figured out how to best implement their sensor technology. “Technology has changed so much since we first put laptops in police cars in California in the late 1980s,” Abbey said. “SimpleSense has figured out a potentially disruptive way to find people faster inside a building.”

SimpleSense is running additional tests in schools, universities, offices and other high hazard buildings across the U.S. to validate how best to implement their sensors as the company expands.

The Reno Fire Department also recently joined the lifesaving PulsePoint app, which alerts people trained in hands-only CPR when someone in a nearby public place suffers sudden cardiac arrest.

Photos and Captions

Firefighters tested if digital maps provided by SimpleSense could speed up their primary search for victims inside the building. View photo.

The test took place at the University of Nevada, Reno Innevation Center, where SimpleSense started in October 2017. View photo.

Firefighters searched the building in teams of four, following both their normal primary search procedure and a modified procedure using SimpleSense. View Photo 1 and Photo 2.