Belgravium helps put out fires at former nuclear reactor

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One of Germany’s top scientific research universities – Technical University of Munich – brought in Belgravium’s Atlanta PDA technology, to help it run its internal fire brigade operations.

The university’s original site was founded in the fifties with the building of the country’s first nuclear research reactor, also known as the “Atomic Egg”, near Garching in Munich. A decade later the infrastructure expanded, with the construction of a new site and annex buildings, as well as the migration of further institutes and scientific facilities from the original site.

In response to this growth, supervisory authorities such as the government of Upper Bavaria, Munich District Administration, and the State Office for Fire and Civil Protection, voiced their demands for self-management of the fire protection and rescue service.

The start of the new build of the Faculty for Chemistry, Biology and Geosciences in the seventies, as well as the stricter requirements in nuclear law, tipped the balance towards setting up a fire brigade on equal terms with the public fire brigades.

Today the Corporate Fire Brigade is seen as a think-tank where new, innovative products and applications for supporting the daily life of the fire brigade are evaluated and developed.

As the premises to be maintained include the former Munich Nuclear Research Reactor and the Heinz Maier-Leibnitz Research Neutron Source, the fire-fighters have been specially trained in radiation protection.

Since, in case of emergency, all equipment and systems must be operational around the clock, it is necessary to maintain and inventory them accordingly.

For this, the brigade uses a monitoring system based on barcodes and RFID chips, which tracks and monitors the fire fighting equipment, such as respiratory protection devices, fire extinguishers, hoses, pumps and power units.

It is vital that the brigade can not only monitor the equipment but, if necessary, prove their proper functionality, and be able to provide the according legal documentation.

Ensuring inventory of material and machines is accurate and up to date is a critical part of the brigade’s operations, as it helps towards financial planning and administration; maintains stock control for consumables (such as sand and extinguishing agents) and also drugs and disposable material for the brigade’s ambulances; and checks the particular vehicle loads for completeness and subsequent documentation.

For mobile work, the fire brigade uses the robust Atlanta mobile computer from Belgravium. The Atlanta works well in harsh environments, and it has never suffered from shocks; being dropped, exposure to water and other liquids while in the field.

The hand-helds are suitable for outdoor work such as the checking of hydrants and fire extinguishers. In addition, both RFID transponders and barcode labels can be processed simultaneously in the one device. The compact PDA fits in any (Fire Brigade) trouser pocket and works either in batch or online WiFi mode.

With this project, which started back in 2006, the Technical University of Munich’s Corporate Fire Brigade pioneered the use of mobile PC/PDA technology in the area of inventories and device checks. Now, more than 150 Atlanta mobile computers are used by German fire brigades.

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