By Ken Robinson
FireRescue1 Associate Editor
Finding a trapped firefighter amid fire, smoke and rubble can be challenging for even highly trained rescue teams, but a new personnel tracking system can provide invaluable life-saving data when every second counts.
The Harris GR-100, unveiled at Fire-Rescue International in Chicago, is a wireless location system that tracks and transmits the location of firefighters inside buildings, providing detailed position information to incident commanders.
The system has the ability to track firefighters in three dimensions, meaning commanders can know which floor a firefighter is located on inside a structure.
Despite such a high level of detail, the system is simple to operate and "requires minimal extra effort on the firefighter's part," according to Harris Director and Market Manager John Facella.
Firefighters simply keep a tracking device mounted to their SCBA so that when donned, it automatically calculates location information that is then relayed over radio.
"The radio network carries data updated every few seconds back to the incident commander," Facella said. "The incident commander has a laptop running software with a map or floor plan showing the firefighters' locations."
For many years, the fire service has sought to accurately track personnel to address tragic incidents of firefighters trapped and lost in building collapses.
The system uses what Harris calls "unique accuracy-enhancing algorithms" to supplement inertial sensors and GPS information to provide information that the company says is more precise and reliable than other solutions currently available.
"The GR-100 brings something important to the fire service. It brings a solid offering" to meet the demand for tracking capabilities," Facella said.
To build the system, Harris teamed with Harris Public Safety & Professional Communications and acquired technological assets from OSI Geospacial Inc.
As GR-100 is the result of the three companies' work combined and extensive experience in communications, Facella believes the collaborative efforts form "a very powerful combination."
Harris is an international communications and information technology company serving government and commercial markets in more than 150 countries. You can find them on the web at www.harris.com/.