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DHS rolls out new technology for firefighters

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(WASHINGTON) — A helmet-mounted indoor visualization and navigation device that allows first responders to see through dark smoke could soon be available to fire departments around the country, according to the Department of Homeland Security.

The Department’s Science and Technology Directorate is opening applications for fire departments around the country to apply for the technology developed by an Austin, Texas, startup Qwake Technologies. The technology was developed by Qwake along with the DHS through a 2020 contract to develop fire safety technology.

The device is called C-THRU, according to the Department.

“We know improved equipment and technology for first responders will help save lives and protect firefighters,” said Dr. Dimitri Kusnezov, DHS Under Secretary for Science and Technology. “Through collaborative partnerships with industry, S&T supports the development of devices like C-THRU that address challenges we know exist for first responders, and we’re leveraging emerging technology to meet their most urgent needs.”

There are 400 prototype devices available for fire departments to apply for.

The device is hands-free, light-weight and has a high-speed thermal camera, mounted to the device and similar to those firefighters currently use, which captures surroundings.

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“Along with providing a clearer, real-time view of an environment, C-THRU also helps reorient firefighters with navigation for backtracking that provides turn-by-turn guidance,” according to a press release from the department.

“If a firefighter does become lost in a burning building, a mayday function can be activated, which alerts other C-THRU wearers in the area to find the distressed first responder. Similar to a smartphone, the system will continuously improve with over-the-air software updates.”

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