Firefighter’s invention aims to keep others out of harm’s way

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin man wanting to protect other firefighters after his own injury has created a device to help fire crews find their ladders during a fire.

“We were on a roof. We were looking for a way to get out, and we couldn’t find a ladder,” said Ryan Stout.

Stout worked as a firefighter in El Paso, and during a fire five years ago, his foot fell through a roof while he tried to find the ladder to get down.

“Tore everything in my left side, ankle, knee, hip, and it put me out of the business,” he said. “But it gave me a great idea on how we can help prevent it in the future.”

Stout spent two years creating Fireground Injury Reduction Equipment, or F.I.R.E., Lights. He said his LED lights can help lead firefighters to safety. Once the light is mounted on top of a ladder, Stout said it gives a firefighter about a 50-foot radius to see what is around them, so they do not have to guess where they are stepping.

“We’re able to locate them quickly, and we’re not going to have look for a greyish ladder within the smoke and the darkness,” said Lt. Rob Bocanegra with the Hutto Fire Department.

Hutto Fire Rescue received the devices for free and plans on practicing with them soon.

“It’s nice to turn what — to me — is still a problem into helping somebody,” said Stout, adding that he was surprised no one thought of it before.

In a business where every second counts, Stout hopes his invention will help other firefighters every step of the way. Stout says Hutto Fire Rescue should receive their lights by the end of the week. He is funding everything out-of-pocket right now. They plan to donate the units to smaller fire departments and are asking for the public’s help.

He hopes to begin selling the devices to larger cities like Austin, Houston and Dallas.

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