In a working environment when people’s lives are literally dependent on a radio communication system, standards-based ‘one size fits all’ short range solutions like Bluetooth or Zigbee can struggle to deliver the level of specialisation required.
This is especially the case in the extreme and hostile environments in which fire fighters find themselves. When Draeger Safety, a leading international safety technology company, sought to provide wireless telemetry for fire crew monitoring, it chose to partner with Wood & Douglas to develop the necessary bespoke personal radio transceiver technology.
Traditionally in the UK a fire Incident Commander would have used a simple entry control board to monitor fire-fighters entertain a fire in breathing apparatus, providing an estimate of when they would need to be withdrawn when air levels run low. However, this fails to account individual’s varied rate of breathing or exertion, meaning the air supply could run out more quickly, unnecessarily endangering the life of the fire-fighter.
Wood & Douglas designed and manufactured an Intrinsically Secure (IS) wearable radio transceiver module for a fire fighter communications system. This met the reliability and flexibility required to deliver critical data in real time, whatever the challenging circumstances fire fighters find themselves in. The Wood & Douglas radio delivers accurate monitoring of the air levels and local environment conditions at an individual’s location by creating a wireless connection between the entry control board and the fire-fighter.
The wireless data channel enables monitoring and measuring of the levels of air that each fire fighter has left. This provides a far more accurate appraisal so the Incident Commander can deal in specifics and deploy their fire fighters more effectively. If a fire fighter is seriously endangered by low air levels, or local hazards, the Incident Commander is instantly informed. With the individual and threat identified, the fire-fighter can either be made aware of the imminent danger by a highly audible built in alarm or two-way communication, or be immediately removed from the danger zone by other team members nearby.
With an Intrinsically Safe design that needs to be battery powered, not only was each section of the transceiver required to be electrically isolated to ensure components do not overheat or burn out, it was also critical that battery energy could not be instantaneously discharged creating heat, or worse, a flame. Decoupling the battery from the rest of the circuit, without losing voltage supply, was a particular challenge that the Wood & Douglas specialists were able to overcome.
Because reliability is such a critical issue, Draeger and Wood & Douglas’ partnership extends from design and manufacture to include ongoing product refinement and testing. The latest generation of developments has moved the air monitor from an umbilical dongle to being built between the air cylinder and the respirator, raising the level of the antenna for improved communication, and connection to the electronic entry control board that is used by the Incident Commander. This enables issues to be resolved quickly and effectively, ensuring London’s fire fighters and those around the globe remain safe, even in the most challenging situations.
- Intrinsically safe bespoke radio design, manufacture, testing and refinement
- Delivers mission critical reliability in the field for preservation of life