C-THRU: A new era in firefighting technology

December 5, 2023
fire training

Introduction to C-THRU technology

C-THRU technology is poised to revolutionize the way firefighters navigate through low-visibility environments, such as smoke-filled rooms.

This advanced system provides real-time, indoor visualization, significantly enhancing situational awareness for firefighters during critical operations.

Field testing and development

The Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology Directorate conducted a comprehensive field test of C-THRU in August 2023.

This test, involving fire departments from California, Chicago, and New York, took place at the San Diego Fire-Rescue Training Facility.

Three different scenarios were used to rigorously evaluate C-THRU under the challenging conditions of real-life firefighting.

Currently, the National Urban Security Technology Laboratory is preparing an Operational Field Assessment report based on this test, aiming to refine C-THRU for commercial release in 2024​​.

Designing for usability

In developing C-THRU, special attention was given to its user interface, ensuring it suits the demanding needs of firefighters.

The First Responder Resource Group played a pivotal role in this process, contributing insights that led to an ergonomic design.

The interface features well-placed, large buttons that can be operated even while wearing heavy firefighting gloves, and allows for operation based on tactile feedback, a crucial aspect in low-visibility situations​​.

How C-THRU works

C-THRU operates as an augmented reality tool, using thermal images to create a visual overlay of the environment.

It highlights the outlines of objects within the firefighter’s field of view, thus providing crucial navigational aid in obscured conditions.

The system comprises two key components: the Navigator, which is mounted on the firefighter’s helmet, and the Visual Command, a tablet used by Incident Commanders to monitor their team’s perspective.

Additionally, it incorporates various communication features for enhanced coordination.

The technology aims to provide more detailed information than standard thermal imagers, particularly in terms of navigation in unfamiliar indoor settings.

Moreover, the developers at Quake Technologies Inc. are working on integrating a backtracking function for added safety, guiding firefighters back through the path they entered​​.

FSJA Comment

The introduction of C-THRU technology marks a significant advancement in firefighting equipment.

Its ability to enhance situational awareness in smoke-filled environments not only improves the safety of firefighters but also increases the efficiency of firefighting operations.

The rigorous testing and thoughtful design process underscore a commitment to addressing the real-world challenges faced by firefighters.

As C-THRU moves closer to commercialization, it represents not just a technological breakthrough but a testament to the ongoing efforts in improving first responder safety and capabilities.

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