By Brett Gillin
We spend a lot of time in this weekly space looking at super high tech gadgets, from state of the art quasi-virtual reality helmets to unmanned drones. And for good reason, as these modern marvels could very well be the future of first responder technology. But ask any first responder, and you’ll hear that having something reliable and low tech beats unreliable and high tech any day of the week. After all, when you’re neck deep in the job, it’s not advisable to be fiddling with all sorts of gadgets to try to keep you safe. That’s where the decidedly low tech, but highly effective FireGround Compass by Halcyon Products comes in. It won’t blow you away with technical specs, but there’s a good chance it could save your life one day.
The first thing most people notice about the FireGround Compass it its simple and sturdy construction, which is very much by design. In fact, the FireGround Compass was designed by firefighters and incident commanders who’ve spent time in the field and know exactly what types of chaos can envelop you in the field. The FireGround Compass is designed to allow firefighters to quickly and easily orient themselves at any emergency scene. By doing this, they greatly reduce the risk of becoming lost, trapped, injured or even killed.
The simple design is a combination of a compass and rotating bezels. The first bezel is a square, representing the structure that the firefighter enters. The second bezel shows the position of the command post or point of entry. So all the firefighter has to do is position the compass facing north and rotate the first bezel to orient him or herself to the relationship of the building, then rotate the second bezel to point toward the entry or command post.
The FireGround compass then illuminates with LED lights, making it visible to the firefighter no matter how thick the smoke is, or more importantly, how disoriented the firefighter might become. With the contents of buildings leading to hotter and smokier fires that move faster than ever before, even the most experienced firefighter can find themselves turned around in the heat of fighting the fire. Having a tool like the FireGround Compass available to them will allow them to more quickly exit the building and not have to “follow the wall.”
Perhaps most appealingly of all, the FireGround compass is a low priced piece of technology, meaning even if the fire department doesn’t have the budget to purchase these for the whole crew, the individual crew members could purchase it on their own without having to spend a month’s salary.