Firefighters are exposed to dangerous thermal conditions, including elevated temperatures, convective heat flux, and radiant heat flux when entering burning buildings during a fire. The self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) facepiece lens is often the first component of a firefighter’s personal protective equipment to fail when exposed to dangerous thermal conditions, a contributing factor in many firefighter injuries and fatalities.
To address this issue, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) funded TDA Research Inc. (TDA) to develop Burn Saver, a sensor and alarm system that can be mounted on an SCBA shoulder strap, and measures the temperature and heat flux of the environment and calculates the length of time until those conditions will damage the SCBA facepiece lens. Specifically, Burn Saver will activate an alarm when it calculates that a firefighter has 45 seconds remaining before the environment begins to damage their SCBA facepiece.
On October 16, 2018, the DHS S&T National Urban Security Technology Laboratory, a testing and evaluation laboratory, conducted an operational field assessment (OFA) of Burn Saver. During this OFA, five firefighters served as evaluators and engaged in operational tests to evaluate Burn Saver’s suitability for use by firefighters in field scenarios that simulate conditions they may encounter during the performance of their duties.