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New technology aims to aid firefighters

Dec 05, 2011   |   by Adam Sullivan   |   WCAX-TV

Ladder trucks are crucial for fire fighters during fires. Getting a ladder to a window could be the difference between life or death. Students at Dartmouth are using their engineering skills to help.

A Norwich Fire Department ladder truck extends to the roof of Dartmouth's MacLean Hall. Not to fight a fire, but rather, to show how a truck like this one is maneuvered during a call.

"Right now, the current situation is they stick somebody on the ground and that is the spotter and the spotter person directs the motion of the ladder. You got it, oh, you're good," says senior Brynne Weeks.

The students say the need for a spotter takes a crucial member of the squad away from putting out the fire and opens the window for human error.

"Sometimes you can't see the spotter, there's smoke, there's large noise and sometimes it's a major problem getting the ladder to a window," says junior Noam Rosenthal.

Because of that, the engineering majors worked with the Norwich department, to create a technology to help steer the ladder. The monitor acts as a guide for the truck's operator. The screen shows directions, which are fed from sensors mounted on the tip of the ladder.

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