Liam Ferguson, a student at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia, was personally affected by the Black Saturday fires a year ago in Victoria that killed 170 people. Being a design student, he put together a “blue sky concept” design for a wildand fire reconnaissance vehicle, which is a finalist for an Australian Design Award for his AMATOYA vehicle.
While it is very unlikely that it will ever be built exactly as designed, it is refreshing to see someone thinking outside the box for a wildland fire vehicle.
When I first saw the images, I was thinking “fire engine”. But even though it will supposedly carry 484 gallons of water, it only carries a 2-person crew and probably does not have room for a lot of hose or hand tools, so it can’t really do a lot of fire suppression. However, I shifted my thinking to “fire reconnaissance vehicle” as it is described, and could picture it being used by engine strike team leaders, dozer strike team leaders, field observers, crew bosses, and division supervisors.
Here are some excerpts from an article about the design at the Australian Design Award site:
Currently the role of site reconnaissance is carried out by light tankers or QAVs (Quick Attack Vehicles), these are typically modified single cabin commercial utility vehicles. While off road performance and manoeuvrability is sufficient, the ability to actively suppress a fire threat is severely limited by considerably small water supplies (500lt) and distinct lack of burnover protection.
Existing approaches towards survival engineering on fire tankers and QAVs alike, consistently appears as augmentation rather than integration. Methods are passive, typically reactive and often incapacitate the appliance when in use. To create a homogenous directive towards survivability AMATOYA will incorporates state of the art clear aerogel laminated insulation in the windows and bodywork, a dedicated auxiliary water supply to operate a highly efficient, intelligent temperature controlled spray down system, military grade sacrificial thermo ceramic intumescent paints and a mechanically injected large displacement diesel engine specifically engineered for the unique conditions experienced on the fire ground.
A Remotely Operated Suppression Cannon Outfit (ROSCO) coupled with a generous 1800lt + 400lt auxiliary water supply [484 gallons, total] offers a unique dynamic to vehicle operation. The ROSCO system utilises highly efficient IFEX3000 impulse technology which not only conserves water usage, but vitally will eliminate crew members being subjected to the elements and stresses of extended high intensity work on the fire ground.
These measures will assure that even in the case of an extremely prolonged burnover the vehicle will not only maintain cabin integrity, but opposed to existing appliances AMATOYA will remain fully operational and mobile.
With an emphasis on crew and vehicle survivability combined with a radically altered approach to fire suppression, the AMATOYA Fire Reconnaissance Vehicle is dramatically separated from any existing appliance in operation. While idealistic in its execution, this project endeavours to question the adequacy of existing appliances and suppression strategies. The goal is not to dismantle a system which has been utilised for over 70 years, but rather to modernise and homogenise, to ask the question and demonstrate just what may be possible in the future.
Oh, and by the way, I want one.