EmergenTek seeks to protect the community and save lives by increasing the efficiency of fire truck ladder operations through automation and other innovative technologies. Our mission is to have a fully reliable and retrofittable product that any firefighter can use on any truck to improve rescues.

Our product, The Fifth Man, can aid fire fighters by advising on ladder placement and fully automating the process. The system makes rescues faster and frees-up hands for firefighters to perform other essential tasks.

After visiting the Boulder Fire Department during a training day, I was troubled by the time taken to operate the trucks ladder. They put some of the visitors and me in the bucket at the top of the ladder and then moved us to the roof of a 4-story building. I noticed that the placement time was starting to go over 2-minutes and I asked the Chief if it usually took this long? He replied that it relies heavily on operator experience and the current operator had not received much training. As an Engineer, I am constantly eager to innovate; so I said: “What if someone made a device that could operate the ladder automatically? You tell it where to go and it will take you there!”. The Chief replied “Well… there is no such thing. Go make it!”. I became inspired and began researching, calling firefighters and sketching designs to make sure I was onto something. Once I had a clear idea of what was required I gathered a team of fellow students to help me achieve the goal before graduation. We have finalized a design and have received funding. We are ready to prototype. We are ready to help those who protect us.

-Gary Marshall