A fire truck that suppresses fires without water

Image: Industrial Design Served, Fire Knight

This may be another invention to add to the list of Lame-Ass Ideas, but we’ll withhold judgement until more details are revealed.

From what we can gather from the diagrams, it appears that this vehicle is designed to spray sand at a forest fire. Yes, sand. The diagram includes interesting items such as:  sand pump, sand tank, blasting arm, and a vacuum digger.

Fire Knight details
Image: Industrial Design Served, Fire Knight

Other than the sketches, we can find only this description:

AT4FV All Terrain Field-Forest Fire Fighting Vehicle

Fireknight is inspired with hope for future by aiming extinguishing a fire without water. With this important fire extinguisher, Fire Knight, Dr. Hakan Gursu and his team has been deemed worthy of.

It won 2nd place in the “Sustainable Living/Environment Preservation – Rural Sustainable Design category in IDA 09 Competition”, and honorable Mention from “Green Dot Awards 2008, Concept Category”, whatever those are.

It may not meet “light hand on the land” guidelines with the “vacuum digger” and the sand blasting system, if that’s what it is.

It’s great when designers think outside the box when it comes to firefighting equipment. Remember the “Fire Reconnaissance Vehicle”? Not all of the ideas are going to be winners, especially if firefighters are not consulted, but over the last 100 years there have not been a lot of major advances in tools that a wildland firefighter can use. We’re still controlling fires by swinging sharpened pieces of metal attached to the ends of sticks.

UPDATE March 28, 2011:

After careful consideration, we have assigned this concept to the Lame-Ass Idea category. There is no written description that we can find, but it appears that the “vacuum-digger” rotates, loosens, and then vacuums up “sand”, dirt and no doubt vegetative matter, and deposits it in the “sand tank”. Then it is shot out the “blasting arm” toward the fire along with a lot of air. The air would fan the fire while the sand, dirt, and vegetative matter would, at best, cover some of the fire, slowing, but not putting out the combustion. At worst, the “blasting” would blow the fire all over hell while adding fuel to the fire.
Thanks J

Survive a burnover in a water-lined tent?

The same person that designed a new way to move water, in fire hose lined with high-voltage electrical wires, has designed a fire shelter with double walls which can be filled with water from a fire hose. His thinking is that since there is water in the lining of the tent walls, that the tent would survive being burned over, along with the terrified firefighters inside.

water lined fire shelter

At the web site for this idea, the photo is described thusly:

The image above is a proposed water filled protective tent. Assuming that a firefighter is near a water filled hose in a hose relay, the tent can be filled with water from the hose. The water should provide good insulation from the heat of a fire in a burnover situation.

Off the top of my head, some of the issues include:

  1. Weight and size of the contraption. How would it be transported?
  2. Is this a single victim person shelter, or can it hold many people? If multiple firefighters have to inflate their shelters at the same time, I suppose they will simply wait in line for their turn to use the fire hose while the 200-foot wall of flames approaches. I guess we’ll throw out the requirement to deploy and enter your fire shelter within 20 seconds.
  3. What are the chances of it being at the location where it might be needed?
  4. What happens if a hot ember lands on it while it is sitting on the ground uninflated?
  5. You could not really stage these ahead of firefighters on uncontained portions of fireline. If burnovers are possible, the fire is probably moving rapidly. Where would you put it? And carrying them with you while laying hose may not be practical.
  6. If you have a functional hose lay, the chances of needing any kind of fire shelter are reduced. Not completely, but to a degree.
  7. How long would it take to inflate the contraption with water? In that amount of time, firefighters might be able to use their escape route to get the hell out of the area.
  8. How stable would it be in the kind of wind that frequently precipitates rapid fire growth and burnovers?
  9. And, if a hot ember lands on it while it is inflated with water, will it really not be damaged? And what about direct flame impingement with temperatures of 1,472 to 2,192 degrees F?
  10. Would it be cost prohibitive?
  11. Would you bet your life on this contraption?

Guess where we’re filing this?

Fire extinguisher bomb

fire extinguisher bomb

We have a new candidate for our collection of Lame-Ass Ideas for suppressing wildfires. Bazalt, a Russian company that makes aircraft bombs, mortar bombs, and grenade launchers, has designed a bomb intended to put out a forest fire. It can detonate either on the ground or above it, and dispenses a liquid over 1,000 square meters, about 1/4 acre. Bazalt says one aircraft could carry up to 100 of these fire extinguisher bombs. A video HERE shows the contraption in action.

And we thought the hazards to a firefighter from the aerially delivered 2,000-pound containers of water were pretty significant. I would not want to be fighting a fire that is supported by aircraft dropping these bombs, but that’s just me. But there might be an application for them at haz-mat sites or burning nuclear power plants that are inaccessible to firefighters.

fire extinguisher bomb

PCAD, a re-invented air tanker system, is tested

PCAD test air tanker drop
PCAD containers are dropped from a C-130 in a test at Yuma Proving Grounds. Photo by Mark Schauer

As we said on May 14, Caylym Technologies inexplicably continues to develop what they call a “precision container aerial delivery system” (PCAD) for suppressing wildfires. The system attempts to re-invent air tankers by dropping 200-gallon plywood/plastic containers of retardant or water, each weighing about 2,000 pounds, from a normally-configured C-130.

Here is a video of one of the early tests of the system conducted on September 25, 2007:

Now they are conducting additional tests of the system at the Yuma Proving Grounds, mapping the ground distribution of the four-foot-square plywood skid boards, the cardboard boxes, and the 200-gallon plastic containers after a drop. We assume they will eventually set up a grid of measuring cups to map the coverage level of retardant, if they ever advance to that stage.

PCAD test air tanker drop
Geodetic surveyor Jerry Wells uses a GPS to map the ridiculous amount of debris dumped onto the ground after a test of the PCAD at Yuma Proving Grounds. Photo by Mark Schauer.

The Yuma Sun describes the delivery system:

Continue reading “PCAD, a re-invented air tanker system, is tested”

Patent awarded for containerized air drop system

Caylym PCAD drop
Caylym photo (click to see larger version)

Caylym Technologies inexplicably continues to develop what they call a “precision container aerial delivery system” (PCAD) for suppressing wildfires. In fact, they recently issued a press release announcing that Canada issued a patent for their system, which involves shoving up to 14 containers of water or retardant, each weighing about 2,000 pounds, out the rear door of a C-130 aircraft. The 200 gallons of water are supposed to disperse from each of the paper containers, but in the photo above from their web site, it appears that at least one container seems to be hurtling toward the ground, possibly still full of liquid?  It’s hard to tell, and it is the only photo found on their web site that shows the containers after they leave the aircraft.

Since they are so proud of their system, it seems odd that they don’t have videos on their web site showing one of the drops in progress.

If there is any chance in hell that a full 2,000-pound container would impact the ground, there is no way a firefighter could be within 1/2 mile of the drop. And even if there is a 100% guarantee that the containers will all empty, how much damage could even an empty container weighing 100 pounds do to someone on the ground?  And then there’s the issue of finding and removing from remote locations the 14, 100-pound empty containers from each drop.

The company claims they could operate at night, primarily because the aircraft is equipped with GPS.

By utilizing modern aviation technology and GPS, these aircraft are capable of combating wildfires in mountainous terrain, at night, in very limited visibility. Think of the possibilities!

Yes. Just think. Please.

This becomes the latest addition to our lame-ass ideas category.

UPDATE July 23, 2010:

The system was recently tested at the Yuma Proving Grounds.

L.A. County Board of Supervisors has the solution to the wildfire problem

A member of the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, Michael D. Antonovich, has what he feels is the solution to the wildfire problem: an automated fire detection system. According to the LA Times, Supervisor Antonovich stated:

The goal of a technology-based system would be to identify new fires as they start and have a programmed airborne response within minutes to suppress the fire before it spreads.

This brings up two issues:

1. Automated fire detection

There is nothing wrong with the concept of an automated fire detection system, in fact there are a number of them up and running around the world, primarily in very remote areas. But the detection of fires in a county with a population of almost 10 million is not the problem. I would venture a guess that with the millions of cell phones in L. A. County, that all fires are reported within minutes.

2. “Airborne response within minutes to suppress the fire before it spreads”

(Sigh) It appears that this is just another politician that thinks aircraft put out fires. The fire agencies already have a “programmed airborne response”. Under certain weather and fuel conditions, and when appropriate, aerial fire resources are dispatched along with ground units. And it takes boots on the ground to suppress a fire.

The L. A. County Board of Supervisors at their meeting today will consider Supervisor Antonovich’s proposal, and if accepted, the county’s Quality and Productivity Commission would be directed to study options and report back in four months.

We are tagging this as a lame-ass idea.

UPDATE @ 4:10 p.m. January 13:

The Los Angeles Times is reporting that the Board of Supervisors did decide yesterday to pursue the concept, and instructed the county’s Quality and Productivity Commission to look for technology that could detect wildfires so that they could be “put out within minutes of starting”. Their report is due in May.