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FAQ: Pathfinder™ Questions Cont'd
28. What is the range of the Pathfinder™ system?
Pathfinder Beacons and Trackers are designed to have a range of over 125 feet. This is a measurement of the total distance that the ultrasound travels. Depending on several variables such as number of wall bounces, doors, and wall material, the system may have both longer and shorter ranges. Since Pathfinder is an adaptive system - it bounces all around in order to determine the path - ranges will always be based on how the sound travels and what it bounces off of.

29. How resilient to heat are the units?
The PASS Beacons are made from high-temperature, impact-resistant polycarbonate plastic, like many other PASS devices. The Panther® Beacons on the Survivair® Panther SCBA use different plastics depending on the type of certification of the SCBA. The Trackers use ULTEM®, polyetherimide, a very strong, high-temperature plastic used in numerous thermal imaging cameras (TICs). The electronics of all the units are similar to those engineered for high temperature use, as in other PASS devices and TICs.

30. What type of batteries do the units use?
Both the PASS Beacon and Panther Beacon use a standard 9-volt alkaline battery. Trackers use four 1.5-volt AA alkaline batteries.

31. How does the Tracker operate?
Pushing the upper button on the front panel turns on the Tracker. The unit immediately goes through a power-up sequence, turning on the LEDs and sounding the beeper. When it finishes, the top cluster of 3 red LEDs will be on, indicating the Tracker is in firefighter mode and is looking for Firefighter Beacons. The battery condition is displayed on the small LED bar graph in the middle.

When the Tracker picks up a signal from a firefighter Beacon, the strength of the signal is displayed on the main LED bar graph. The Tracker will also beep when the signal from a firefighter Beacon is picked up, with faster beeps indicating a stronger signal (like most radar detectors). By scanning a room with the Tracker – much like one would scan a room with a flashlight – and by going in the direction of the strongest signal, the path to the Beacon can be rapidly located.

By pushing the upper button for about 1 second, the cluster of 3 red LEDs will turn off and the next cluster down of 3 yellow LEDs will turn on, indicating the Tracker is now looking for Auxilary Beacons. By pushing the upper button again for about 1 second, the next cluster of 3 green LEDs will turn on. The Tracker is now looking for Exit Beacons. By pushing the button a third time for about 1 second, the Tracker will return to firefighter mode indicating that it is back looking for firefighter Beacons. To turn off the Tracker, push the upper button for about 4 seconds.

The bottom button on the Tracker is a mute switch. Press the button once in order to toggle the beeper off. Press the button again to unmute the sound.

32. If a firefighter falls on the Beacon, does the system still work?
All Beacons have a grille surrounding the ultrasonic transducer, which leaves openings for the ultrasound to escape. A PASS Beacon should be worn on a firefighter's back, near their SCBA tank. In this position, it is very hard to accidentally cover up. The Beacon will be exposed to the air even if the firefighter is on his back. As long as even a small opening is present, the ultrasound signal will be transmitted.

If the firefighter goes into a room and closes the door behind him, as long as there is a small crack under the door, the ultrasound will still escape.

Even if a firefighter falls on the Beacon, the situation is considerably better than that of falling on a PASS device. If a firefighter falls on a PASS device, the sound level is reduced below that of the rest of the sounds of the fire, meaning you can’t hear the PASS device. On the other hand, because the Tracker is only looking for a very specific frequency of ultrasound, it does not hear the regular sounds of the fire. The Beacon is a very loud ultrasound transmitter and the Tracker is a very sensitive receiver.

For the Panther Beacon, the situation is even better. The system uses two ultrasound transmitters — one on the front of the firefighter next to the COMPASS unit (Air-integrated PASS Device), and one on the back of the firefighter, right alongside the tank. By using two separate transmitters, the likelihood of obscuring both units is greatly reduced.

33. Who besides firefighters could use the Pathfinder system?
Any search and rescue personnel who might need to be rescued themselves could use the system, including FEMA personnel, police department personnel, and military personnel.

34. Where are the units manufactured?
All assembly and testing is done in the United States.

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Updated 05/10/05
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© Copyright Summit Safety, Inc. 2005. All Rights Reserved.