Sensor Assisted Fire Fighting

Adam Cowlard, Wolfram Jahn, Cecilia Abecassis-Empis, Guillermo Rein, Jose Torero-Cullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Fire detection and monitoring sensors, fire modelling, fire fighting and command and control are usually perceived as independent issues within fire safety. Sensor data is associated to detection and alarm and to some minor extent as a source of very basic information for building management or emergency response. The streams of data emerging from sensors are deemed to lead to a rapid information overload, so the pervasive sensor deployment (now common in modern buildings) is entirely independent of procedures associated to emergency management. Fire modelling follows a similar path because model output is not robust enough, not fast enough and the information generated by such simulations rapidly escalates in quantity and complexity so that no commander can assimilate it. Fire fighting is therefore left as an isolated activity that does not benefit much from sensor data or the potential of modelling the event. This separation is naturally induced by the complexity of a fire event and represents the biggest barrier to the useful development of sensor technology and fire modelling into emergency response. Therefore, current technology applied to fire is decades behind sensor development for other related areas like military operations or intruder security. There is no apparent use for more complex and expensive sensors. This paper describes the different processes that need to be studied to establish a path by which a collection of sensor data can be used to provide early detection, robust building management and adequate information to assist fire fighting operations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-741
Number of pages23
JournalFire Technology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2010


  • sensors
  • modelling
  • fire fighting
  • forecast
  • emergency response

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