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Published on 04 Jun 2021

How could AI alert firefighters to impending danger?

Firefighting is a race against time. How long exactly? For firefighters, this part is often unclear. Building fires can go from serious to deadly in an instant, and warning signs are often hard to discern in the chaos of an inferno.
To eliminate this major blind spot, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed P-Flash, or the flashover prediction model. The tool, powered by artificial intelligence, was designed to predict and prevent a deadly phenomenon in burning buildings known as flashover, when flammable materials in a room ignite almost simultaneously, producing an inferno whose size is limited only by available oxygen. The tool's predictions are based on temperature data from a building's heat detectors and, remarkably, it is designed to work even when the heat detectors start to fail, making do with the remaining devices.


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