Episode 34 – STS Defence Flashover Warning System

Imagine you are fighting a structure fire. You’ve entered the building on your way to the heart of the fire when you notice something strange. The air around you continues to grow hotter and hotter. You realize a flashover is about to occur. You push your way out of the structure just before the ignition. Glass shards and smoke zip by from the explosion.

Every firefighter knows the danger of flashover. They know the warning signs, but what happens when a firefighter misses the sharp temperature rise. What happens when they don’t have enough time to evacuate? Firefighters face these questions every time they enter a structure. They have learned to live with the uncertainty of flashover. They live in the reality that one missed warning sign could be the last one they ever receive. Which is why STS Defence has created a device that warns firefighters of a flashover 15 seconds before it occurs.

STS Defence’s device is called FIRST. It’s about the same size as a hand-held radio; looks like one too. FIRST measures the ambient temperature surrounding the firefighter every three seconds. Then using the past ten measurements predicts what the temperature will be 15 to 30 seconds in the future. When the system predicts a flashover event is about to occur, it makes a warning sound. From this point, firefighters have 15 seconds before a flashover could occur.

FIRST is a great tool for firefighters. Its primary drawback is that it takes up space on a firefighter’s PPE. STS Defence is aware of this issue and looking for ways to improve the device. Despite the drawback FIRST is a great tool to keep firefighters safe from flashovers. Imagine entering a structure fire and not having to worry about missing the warning signs of a flashover; that’s what FIRST represents.