A PASS device, or Personal Alert Safety System, is a device used by firefighters when entering a hazardous environment(also know as IDLH – Immediately Dangerous to Life or Health), particularly a burning building. This will emit a loud tone to let others nearby know a firefighter may be in distress.
This device is usually used in conjunction with a self-contained breathing apparatus(which I’ll have more on next week). The small battery powered device is attached to the harness of the airpack where it can be easily reached when needed. It can either be activated manually, when a firefighter realizes they are in trouble, or it will engage automatically if it doesn’t detect motion within 15-30 seconds. Older models could only be manually activated, but with a firefighter incapacitated, they would not be able to do that.
Most PASS devices have a muted warning, alerting the firefighter wearing it that it’s going to go off. This way they can move and reset the activation timer before a false alarm occurs. Of course, these still do occur at times. And some firefighters become desensitized to the sound, and immediate action isn’t taken when it should be, which can have deadly results. So, it’s important both to cut down on those false alarms and take action when it sounds.