Firefighters sometimes have trouble hearing their radios because they are working in a high noise environment while wearing layers of headgear. In-ear-monitors may solve some of the problems firefighters now experience. What do you think?
Your experience and insights may make it possible for firefighters to make IEMs that are specifically designed for their work. (please note that this is non-profit effort...and if you want to get involved in making IEMs for firefighters then that might be a great help)
1] allow firefighters to hear radio traffic in high noise environments
2] stay in place
3] be cost effective (relatively inexpensive and/or have a long service life)
Some questions that you might be able to help answer include:
Do IEMs work well in high-noise environments?
Do some sizes and/or shapes of IEMs work better than others?
Once inserted, do IEMs stay in place?
If they don't, do you have any ideas or advice on how to ensure that they will remain in place?
How sensitive are IEMs to moisture (water), oil, and dirt?
Can they be cleaned?
Are there any ways to protect IEMs from damage that might be caused by water/oils/dirt?
How long (with proper care & handling) can a pair of IEMs be expected to last?
In what ways do IEMs fail?
What don't you like about IEMs?
How often do IEMs need to be refitted in order to ensure proper function?
Do you have any advice on how to improve the function & service life of IEMs?
Can IEMs be shaped to lessen or avoid the kinds of physical interference that might knock them loose?
Would something other than an IEM work better?
What other questions need to be addressed?
Please let me know (via the thread) if you need additional information.
The following images are intended to show some of the gear-related physical interference problems with wearing audio devices in or on the ears:
This is not fully geared-up (the SCBA tank, hoses, controls, and mask interface are not shown), but it may give you an idea of what is likely on top of a firefighter's ears.
The big beige sock is a fire hood - it's made of a soft fire resistant material and mainly acts to prevent flash burns.
Once the fire hood is on it may be difficult, impossible, or dangerous for the firefighter to access an IEM. If the firefighter is not in a safe area then removing gloves and opening the bunker coat (etc.) could result in a serious burn, so it's important that the IEMs remain in place.
This is one style of SCBA mask - there are many different designs - but you may be able to imagine how the mask straps might catch on an audio device.
These are some Orange County Fire Authority firefighters during a training exercise. They are preparing to use a gas powered saw to cut through a metal wall that is at the end of a concrete pipe. Firefighters use noisy equipment and work in environments that can be very noisy.