This paper investigates a new low-power structural health monitoring (SHM) strategy where fiber Bragg grating (FBG) rosettes can be used to continuously monitor for changes in a host structure’s principal strain direction, suggesting damage and thus enabling the immediate triggering of a higher power acoustic emissions (AE) sensor to provide for better characterization of the damage. Unlike traditional “always on” AE platforms, this strategy has the potential for low power, while the wireless communication between different sensor types supports the Internet of Things (IoT) approach. A combination of fiber-optic sensor rosettes for strain monitoring and a fiber-optic sensor for acoustic emissions monitoring was attached to a sample and used to monitor crack initiation. The results suggest that passive principal strain direction monitoring could be used as a damage initiation trigger for other active sensing elements such as acoustic emissions. In future work, additional AE sensors can be added to provide for damage location; and a strategy where these sensors can be powered on periodically to further establish reliability while preserving an energy efficient scheme can be incorporated.