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FASS: Firefighter Audio Safety Systems

Elliot, Alan; McGregor, Iain


Alan Elliot


A series of auditory cues were designed to assist firefighters with navigation and general safety in a fire emergency. Firefighters must maintain situational awareness at all times and this can be lost with disorientation, which is one of the main causes of injury and even death. Disorientation can be caused by restricted vision due to heavy smoke, a lack of familiarity with the surroundings as well as hearing and communication difficulties caused by the intensity of the fireground sounds. Five professional firefighters were interviewed to identify ways in which auditory affordances could be used to support their work. Existing sounds from both the emergency environment and those generated by firefighting equipment were assessed to determine their importance in maintaining situational awareness. Noise reduction technology was investigated, to assess its potential use in limiting the levels of noise exposure experienced. A series of auditory cues were designed to address the issues that were found using binaural spatialization and Augmented Reality methods. A prototype system was presented to firefighters to determine its effectiveness. The firefighters found that noise reduction would be effective in improving their situational awareness and ability to communicate effectively. Additionally, the firefighters found that spatially placed auditory cues had the potential to be effective in navigation and orientation in a fire emergency. The findings suggest that the use of noise reduction and auditory affordances have the potential to improve situational awareness for firefighters, increase safety and potentially save lives.

Presentation Conference Type Conference Paper (Published)
Conference Name AM '23: Audio Mostly 2023
Start Date Aug 30, 2023
End Date Sep 1, 2023
Acceptance Date Sep 30, 2023
Online Publication Date Oct 11, 2023
Publication Date 2023
Deposit Date Oct 12, 2023
Publisher Association for Computing Machinery (ACM)
Book Title AM '23: Proceedings of the 18th International Audio Mostly Conference
ISBN 9798400708183
Keywords Firefighting, Sound Design, Spatialization, Auditory Augmented Reality, Situational Awareness