Main Content

Fire Prevention & Safety Research and Development Grants - 2010 Grant Awards - 00885

Main Content

This page contains information about Fire Prevention and Safety (FP&S) Research and Development (R&D) Grant number EMW-2010-FP-00885. The content is useful for those in the fire service seeking information about to how to improve the safety and health of firefighters.

Fiscal Year (FY) 2010

Fire Prevention Grant
Project Title:Evaluation and Enhancement of PASS Effectiveness
Organization:Fire Protection Research Foundation
Principle Investigator:Casey C. Grant, P.E.
Grant Number:EMW-2010-FP-00885
Award Total:$834,388.00
Period of Performance:07/13/2011 – 07/12/2014
Grant Status:Active



When firefighters are overcome by the heat or smoke from a fire and become disoriented or trapped in a structure, 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 designed to alert aid using audible signal technology. Normal operation is for the PASS devices to activate a 95-decibel multiple-frequency alarm signal if a firefighter does not move during a specific and pre-set time period. Foremost, among the concerns about PASS devices is that nationally recognized standards currently allow a range of performance for the PASS alarm signal, and this has resulted in multiple different PASS alarm signals being used in the fire service.


This project seeks to establish a scientific basis for a single optimized PASS alarm signal for use throughout the U.S fire service, and additionally addresses possible technological enhancements such as receiver enhancements that would allow the device to be addressable using non-audible frequencies.


This project is comprised of five major research components: characterize the noise environment of the fire ground during fire fighting operations, characterize alarm signals from currently used PASS alarms, development and validate a sound transmission model that can be used to analyze the audibility of PASS alarms under fire ground background noise environments, evaluate firefighter response to existing and proposed PASS alarm sounds, and investigate of technological enhancements to PASS alarms that would prove additional means to locate firefighters.

Projected Results and Conclusions

The anticipated results of this project directly support fire fighter safety by providing science-based guidance to PASS device manufacturers, firefighters, researchers, and standards developing organizations for the optimization of PASS alarm sounds, recommending readily implemented alternate technological enhancements to PASS devices that would facilitate locating firefighters in structures, and producing a methodology by which to optimize audible alarms that can be applied in a wide range of research areas.


Fire Protection Research Foundation Receives Major Grant for Research in Support of the Fire Service: Three-year study to Focus on Personal Alert Safety System, NFPA, August 2, 2011 (Click Here)


Last Updated: 
06/30/2015 - 17:21
Back to Top