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Homeland Security

First Responder Technologies

Wildland firefighters respond to a fire

The First Responder Technologies Division (R-Tech) works closely with the nation’s emergency response community to identify and prioritize mission capability gaps and facilitate rapid development of critical solutions to address responders’ everyday technology needs. R-Tech gathers input from local, tribal, territorial, state and federal first responders and engages them in all stages of research and development—from building prototypes to operational testing to transitioning the tools that enhance safety and performance in the field.

R-Tech uses a variety of approaches to gather information on capability gaps. For example, the First Responder Resource Group, comprised of 120 active and retired first responders from across the nation, is an all-volunteer working group that helps guide S&T’s research and development efforts by advising on the top-priority needs of first responders in the field. 

They also work directly with first responders who have specific requests, like wildland firefighters in California whose heavy personal protective gear was resulting in large numbers of heat stress injuries. In partnership with the U.S. Army’s Natick Soldier Research, Development and Engineering Center, the U.S. Forest Service, and California firefighters, FRG designed a new garment ensemble for wildland firefighters that improved radiant thermal protection; reduced heat stress; and improved the form, fit and function of the garments. 

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