WPI has been researching and creating designs for a firefighter location tracking system since Worcester lost six firefighters in December 1999 when they were unable to find their way out of the Worcester Cold Storage warehouse, which was destroyed by fire.
The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) recently was awarded the 2012 Massachusetts State Fire Marshal’s Award, which recognizes significant contributions to the fire service made by those outside of the service. WPI has been researching and creating designs for a firefighter location tracking system since Worcester lost six firefighters on December 1999 when they were unable to find their way out of the Worcester Cold Storage warehouse, which was destroyed by fire.
Recognized were WPI professors and ongoing multi-disciplinary research team members, John Orr, David Cyganski, James Duckworth (electrical and computer engineering) and Kathy Notarianni (fire protection engineering), who accepted the award from Gov. Deval Patrick, Lt. Gov. Timothy Murray, Public Safety and Security Secretary Mary Elizabeth Heffernan, and Fire Marshal Stephen Coan at the ceremony. Professors Duckworth said his team set out to develop technology to help command officers locate firefighters precisely, in three dimensions, inside buildings, and to guide them to safety or rescue them, if necessary. Prototypes for a personnel locator device have been developed and extensively tested and expected to market next year.
In developing a solution, WPI worked closely with the Worcester Fire Department and the Massachusetts Firefighting Academy, and benefitted from major awards from several federal agencies, including the U.S. and the (FEMA).
The ceremony also honored Worcester Firefighter Jon Davies Sr., who was killed in the line of duty one year ago, and firefighters from Worcester and 14 other communities for bravery, courage and heroism. The National Anthem and other musical selections were performed by the WPI Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Douglas Weeks, administrator of music at WPI.