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Evaluation and Enhancement of Fire Fighter PASS Effectiveness

Fire Protection Research Foundation report: "Evaluation and Enhancement of Fire Fighter PASS Effectiveness" (PDF, 4 MB)
Authors: Ofodike A. (DK) Ezekoye PhD, Preston S. Wilson PhD, Dennis McFadden PhD, Craig Champlin, Joelle I. Suits, Mustafa Z. Abbasi, and Casey M. Farmer, University of Texas - Austin; Casey C. Grant P.E. and Minchao Yin, Fire Protection Research Foundation
Date of issue: March 2015


Fire fighters are often exposed to hostile environments of heat and smoke, and this includes the possibility of becoming disoriented or trapped in a structure. When this occurs, it is crucial that there is a reliable means to alert other fire ground personnel to their need for assistance.

Personal Alert Safety System (PASS) devices are used by fire fighters to alert aid using audible signal technology, and the operate by emitting an alarm signal if the lack of motion exceeds a specific time period. However, despite its widespread use throughout the fire service and on-going enhancements in recent years, certain problems still exist with audible PASS technology such as the use of multiple different PASS alarms being used in the field. This project is directly applicable to the requirements addressed by NFPA 1982, Standard on Personal Alert Safety Systems (PASS).

This project seeks to establish a scientific basis for a single PASS alarm signal for use throughout the U.S fire service, and additionally address possible technological enhancements such as receiver enhancements and addressable non-audible frequencies. The goal of this project is to improve the safety of distressed firefighters engaged in structural firefighting operations and to aid in rescue activities, by establishing a credible and scientific basis for determining the optimum PASS signal performance characteristics and to evaluate technological enhancements for this technology.