Our developed product, the FireWatch, is a device which allows firefighters to receive and respond to alarm calls. As of now the firefighters have no option to immediately signal to their superior whether or not they are able to come to the fire station. This leads to the inability to plan operations ahead – the units are grouped into squads only on site causing serious delays. Furthermore some firefighters will be assigned less frequently than others, decreasing their motivation and working morale.
In case of an emergency the FireWatch enables the firefighters to respond to their commanders by simply swiping up- or downward on the screen, respectively rejecting or accepting the alarm call. The underlying back-end system keeps track of the firefighters’ positions and calculates their estimated time of arrival. Based on this information and additional parameters such as the firefighters’ operation participation frequency the system builds the squads.
The FireWatch complies with all official regulations and laws as it transmits via voice radio frequencies and not via mobile radio frequencies, which may overload and collapse on special occasions such as new years’ eve. On the one hand our system increases the overall motivation and working morale of the firefighters on a long-term basis because it ensures that every firefighter gets assigned to operations equally. On the other hand the commander’s time spent planning decreases enabling him to focus his attention on other important tasks.
The FireWatch can be extended with smartphone applications showing additional data regarding the alarm call or the operation ahead.
The next step after the user research was to develop concepts based on the gathered data utilizing the tools presented to us by our guest Mr. Kormann-Philipson. With these tools we were able to come up with our final concept: The FireWatch – the exclusive, highly fashionable gadget for firefighters.
The one thing our user group was missing was to know whether or not the alarmed firefighters were going to come to the fire station and participate in the operation. Not knowing meant the commander was unable to plan the operation ahead, therefore crucial time was wasted waiting for everyone to arrive. The FireWatch provides the feature to accept or reject an alarm call with a simple push of a button.
Furthermore some of the firefighters didn’t get to participate in the operation several times although they were present. Our system includes an automatic squad building mechanism. This way the operating firefighters are chosen based on their operation participation frequency and estimated time of arrival. This way the overall working moral could be increased.
Now we are looking forward to develop some prototypes of our concept.
We decided to pick firefighters as our User Research group, so we visited some fire departments in and around Munich.
Yesterday we were at the fire station in Neuried. There we interviewed the vice commandant. He told us about his daily routines and the general structure of the voluntary fire brigade. Later he showed us around the station and explained the technical equipment they use. It was very interesting to see the complex aspects firefighters have to deal with.
a part of group 8 in front of the fire station in Neuried
Today we first talked to the former commandant of the voluntary fire brigade in Unterhaching, who now works as Head of Department at the fire brigade. He told us about his everyday life as commandant and showed us some interesting technical gadgets. After that, we visited the fire station in Mailing where we interviewed the youth leader who also showed us their vehicles and their equipment. You sure could notice the differences between the voluntary fire brigade in Neuried, Unterhaching and Mailing, because the equipment they had in Mailing was much more old-fashioned than the equipments in Neuried or Unterhaching.
Now we are looking forward to analyze our collected data and get ideas how to simplify the work of firefighters.