Northern Star Fire, an Eau Claire startup with a device to help firefighters find their way out of a burning building, is the grand prize winner in the 2017 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest.

Jeff Dykes, a captain in the Eau Claire Fire Department and a firefighter for 20 years, has developed an electronic, eight-direction compass that fits inside a firefighter’s face mask and lights up, showing the direction.

“It allows firefighters to maintain their orientation in zero-visibility conditions,” Dykes said.

He said in order to use the device, when firefighters arrive at a fire, they take a moment to establish directions before entering a smoke-filled structure. “So when I go inside your house and I become disoriented because I don’t know how your floor plan is and I can’t see my hand in front of my face, I know your front door faces north … I just simply head north, using the Northern Star.”

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