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Texas Tech researchers team up with fire crews for their latest project

LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) – The engineering department at Texas Tech University traveled to the Lubbock Firefighter Training Center to gain first-hand experience as a firefighter for their latest project.

Suman Chowdhury, of the engineering department at Texas Tech, says the project isn’t actually for a note, it’s about firefighter safety.

“The Department of Homeland Security is interested in developing a firefighter’s helmet,” Chowdhury said. “So right now the activities and roles of firefighters have changed a lot over the years. Only 7% of their activities are primarily fire extinguishing, but primarily respond to vehicle extrication, automated accidents and, and also, as there are active shooting incidents to which firefighters respond, but they don’t have no ballistic helmet.

These researchers are trying to improve one of the most important safety equipment a firefighter can have: helmets.

“These helmets have been around for, you know, over 50 years, they provide very good protection against top to bottom impact,” said Lt. Lubbock Fire Rescue, Brady Robinette. “But some of the other scenarios we find ourselves in, like being on the pavement, working in car wrecks, they don’t offer as good side impact protection and some of the things that Texas Tech is looking at.”

The first-hand experience gained by these researchers can help improve the safety of fire teams when responding to any call.

“So whatever activity they are doing, there has to be a helmet that protects them during those dangers, whatever that activity is, but it must also keep the needs of the wearer in mind,” said Robinette.

The group was confronted with different scenarios that the firefighters could counter. But in this male-dominated profession, researchers also took into account female crew members.

“There is a growing interest in hiring more female firefighters,” Chowdhury said. “So our helmets will also offer a prototype for firefighters based on their head telemetry.”

The researchers hope that their experiences today will help bring more research funds to the project. They plan to complete the project in the spring of 2023.

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