Fire Fighter Project

”There is no smoke without fire.” Plautus

On Friday the 22nd the students from the Advanced Product Design Programme presented their term project The Umeå Fire Fighter Project in collaboration with Umeå Fire Brigade and sponsored by Umeå municipality. After twelve weeks of research, interviews, evaluating, sketching, role-playing and defining problems and solutions, the students had impressive designs to show.

The fire station in Umeå employs around 70 persons full time and only two of them are women. The working environment and conditions for fire fighters differs from most other occupations and the demands are high both physically and mentally. Furthermore the risk of cancer seems to be more common in the fire fighter profession than in other professions.

The cooperation started with a tour of the fire station and the students got the opportunity to be firemen for one day. When the students had pinpointed problem areas they chose specific areas to work with individually. Here are examples of the results:

Lifeline - Fire hose maneuvering indoors: The fire hose is in more than one perspective the lifeline for the smoke divers. If they lose the hose, the poor visibility can get them lost. This project aimed to make the hose easier to carry, preferable without having to use your hands, and prevent the smoke divers from losing the hose and the project goal was also to improve the spray nozzle of the hose.

EvaGuide - Fire evacuation guide for hotels: The goal of this presentation was to safely evacuate guests from hotels. This includes safe breathing, improved visibility and reducing the level of panic.

C-THRU - Smoke diving helmets: This work wanted to design a helmet that provides better vision inside dense smoke and dark environments, better audio communication, comfortable neck movement, and head protection against heat and shock. The helmet is equipped with both infrared and night vision to improve its vision capacity.

CAS Air System – This project’s goal was to offer a respiratory protection with safe breathing without reducing mobility and comfort. The respiratory mask should also enable communication.

Conny Qwarforth and Henrik Östlund, firemen from Umeå fire station, attended the presentations and gave feedback to the students. They thought some of the designs were really important from an equality perspective, for instance power tools that can be handled even if you are not big and very strong. The fire brigade are trying to get more women to the profession so those areas are important. The two firemen seemed impressed and inspired by the students’ designs.

Read about the event in the local newspaper Västerbottens Folkblad, hear about it on Sveriges Radio and visit SVT to watch a clip.