Brandon fire inspires Assiniboine student to develop system to save lives | Assiniboine Community College
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Brandon fire inspires Assiniboine student to develop system to save lives

Brandon fire inspires Assiniboine student to develop system to save lives

Written On: 08 May, 2019
Category: Academic Student Spotlight Technology
Related programs:  Communications Engineering Technology

The devastating fire in downtown Brandon in May last year that left more than 200 people homeless inspired Prarthi Gheewala to develop a device to help firefighters save lives.

The second-year Communications Engineering Technology student at Assiniboine Community College had never seen anything like the Brandon fire in her home country of India. 

“We didn’t have many fires back home. When I came here, I saw two buildings burning up. That inspired me to do this project,” Gheewala said.

While there was no loss of life, the fire made downtown apartment building Massey Manor uninhabitable and destroyed three other buildings. 

The device Gheewala has developed, called Count ’n’ Care, would save time for firefighters at the scene of a fire, potentially saving lives. 

If firefighters arrived at an apartment building equipped with Gheewala’s system, they would be able to look at a web browser on a smartphone and know which apartments still had people in them and how many were in each apartment. 

Instead of searching every single apartment, they would be able to prioritize the apartments in which the occupants may have fainted, fallen asleep or been overtaken by smoke.

The system uses two sensors mounted on the apartment’s door to track people as they enter and leave the apartment. 

One sensor transmits an ultrasonic sound wave that is received by the other sensor. 

“If a person walks in, they will block one sensor and then the second one. If a person walks out of the room, they will block the second sensor and then the first sensor. Figuring out which one it blocks and whether it blocks the second one or not, it will detect that a person is in the room or if the person is outside the room,” Gheewala said.

“In case of fire, in big buildings, in hospitals and schools, the firefighters don’t know where to go to save people. They have to search through every room. But using this device, it will tell them the number of people in the room or if that room is empty,” she said. 

Firefighters would be able to access the information through a web browser on any smartphone or other device connected to the Internet. 

“If you entered that IP (Internet Protocol) address, you would be directed to that webpage, showing there are some people in Room 303 and some people in Room 311,” but no one in the other rooms, Gheewala said.

No device currently on the market offers the same capabilities as her system, Gheewala said. “If I got the chance, I would like to take this device to market.”

She estimated it would cost about $750 per floor to install the system in apartment buildings.

What if landlords balk at the price?

“I would tell them, ‘There’s no price to life.’ That’s the main thing here. If one person could be saved by the device, they should consider having it in their building,” Gheewala said.

Learn more about the Communications Engineering Technology program.

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