The fire department dates back to 24 BCE when a man named Egnatius Rufus in ancient Rome dispersed his 600 slaves to 7 “fire stations” and there job was to protect his property and the city from fire. On September 11, 2001 the opinion of first responders in America did an about face. All of the sudden there were lives and faces associated with the masks and wailing sirens that are often seen and heard rushing down the streets of Main Street USA to put out fires and protect the people.
While there have been improvements to communication equipment, fire extinguishing apparatus, vehicles and breathing apparatus, first responders and their supervisors are still left in the dark. When first responders arrive on the scene of a full working fire they’re in the dark
“We don’t have maps that show where firefighters are inside buildings,” Paul Siebert, a firefighter who works with Texas A&M’s TEEX first responder training program told kera.org.
Technology can fix that, which is exactly why Tech Wildcatters in Dallas along with the Federal Department of Homeland Security and the Center For Innovative Technology have created Emerge a startup accelerator for first responder technology.
Six startups will be part of this 12 week intense, immersive and cohort based accelerator specifically for first responders. In addition to the typical accelerator business training, and technical assistance the six teams in the Emerge accelerator will also learn how to train first responders who can be upwards of 50 years old, on how to use new technology.
Some of the ideas for Emerge include a first responder dashboard that can be quickly shared amongst those in an active incident, and a way to map firefighters on an interior map of the building. When you can put those two technologies together with sensors that will monitor oxygen use, temperature and water supply, first responders could see their first significant leg up on fires in decades.
“This is really pulling together not just hardware but also software and first responders who are really not very connected to technology,” Tech Wildcatters CEO Gabriella Draney said.