The Air Tank calculator: an application for the Belarus Ministry of Emergency Situations

The air tank calculator for the Ministry of Emergency Situations Of the Republic of Belarus is an application that helps firefighters to quickly and accurately calculate how much time they can spend in a smoke-filled building before they run out of oxygen.

To protect their lungs from smoke, firefighters use a breathing apparatus – a mask connected to a tank of compressed air. To monitor how much oxygen they have left – and thus how much time they have to find and save people, put out the fire and get out safely – they do manual calculations using special formulas. The application developed by EPAM is a calculator that automates the process and helps firefighters to quickly and accurately get the needed data.

The problem

These manual calculations are handled by a dispatcher who remains outside the building. Every fifteen minutes, they make radio contact with the firefighters inside to request tank pressure data, then use pen and paper to calculate the time the team has left. This process takes time – and can be inaccurate. It was also difficult for the dispatcher to keep up with multiple teams. The EPAM team needed to automate this process.

The process

The first prototype was developed during EPAM Engineering Jam, a hackathon for social projects.  A team of volunteers from EPAM, including a former firefighter, then took up work on its development. They studied documentation on workflow at the source of the fire and the formula for calculating oxygen and time left. Then, they met with Ministry of Emergency Situations representatives and began testing the application. The developers used firefighters’ feedback to make adjustments and add new functions.

What we did

The final version accounts for all firefighter feedback. The dispatcher needs only to make a few clicks of their smartphone – indicate tank pressure, number and volume and press Start. The application immediately calculates how much oxygen is left and starts counting down the time the team can remain in the building.

Other functions

  • Adding teams. The dispatcher can stay in contact with up to four teams at a time, which is critical in complex fire situations.

  • One-click mode change. If the team finds the source of the blaze or a victim (and therefore need to connect a second mask and use more oxygen), the application recalculates the time the team has left before they need to get out of the building.

  • Sound and light indicators and vibration. This sends a reminder every fifteen minutes to make radio contact with the rescue team and request tank pressure data.

  • Manual correction of parameters. This is needed for entering any changes every fifteen minutes and in situations where the team needs to use reserve pressure.

Where it will be used

The application has been successfully tested and is in use at fire stations around Belarus. According to employees of the Ministry of Emergency Situations of the Republic of Belarus, it gives them accurate data, saves time on calculations and reduces emergency reaction time by 20%.

The application was developed by volunteers at EPAM Engineering Jam, a series of social hackathons.

Our thanks go out to the team:

Michael Clebanov, Maksim Rudakovskiy, Aliaksandr Litskevich, Maksim Zakharenka, Anastasiya Shaurova