LUBBOCK, Texas — Texas Tech University students participated in a live simulated training with Lubbock Fire Rescue on Monday to research for a project to create a special structural helmet for firefighters nationwide.

Suman Chowdhury, assistant professor of industrial manufacturing and systems engineering at Texas Tech, said it’s a $520,000 project funded by the Department of Homeland Security.

“We are expecting to develop a firefighting helmet prototype that can give both a ballistic and thermal protection and can save millions of fire fighters across the nation,” said Chowdhury. “We will be the first team in the world to come up with this next-generation firefighting helmet.”

Chowdhury said creating a fusion between the two helmets would simplify having to carry two helmets for firefighters.

Kathryn Bell, a Texas Tech student, said the training would help them in data collection and better understand the movements of firefighters to create a better helmet.

“Right now the helmet is a little heavy and doesn’t offer as much protection as it could,” said Bell, “We’re looking for ways to improve that especially with protection in the occupational lobe and then the temporal lobe because those are really big aspect of your brain that are not getting as much protection as it could.”

Ananya Madhabaram, a Lubbock High School student and Texas Tech student, said she was nervous to start the hands-on training but excited to help firefighters.

“So many firefighters are injured from traumatic brain injuries and this these types of injuries are also linked with mental conditions,” said Madhabaram. “So it is so important that we protect the health of these firefighters.”

Brady Robinette, Lieutenant with the LFR, said he hopes this project will help Texas Tech obtain other grants to be able to create better roadway helmets.

“After the January 11, 2020 accident that we had where it killed Lieutenant Eric Hill, Officer Nicholas Reyna and critically injured Matt Dawson,” said Robinette, “I reached out to Texas Tech through Lubbock Fire Department, and we established a cooperative agreement to really get to the point where we design a roadway helmet specifically designed for emergency responders to protect our heads are properly on the roadway.”