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Posted by: CFO Steve McGuirk

Its been a relatively (and I mean relatively) quiet week.

We are just a couple of weeks away from local elections and many of our fire authority members are busy with their own campaigns or supporting their political colleagues with leafleting etc.

This period is known as purdah which describes a convention / protocol whereby we (the officers) try our best to give the politicians the time / space to organise their election. Equally, though, there is a block on politicians overtly using their office to get personal / political advantage.

The new duty system seems to be bedding-in okay - we will still see a few odd detachments, because we have many more people in the system than we need - so please bear with us for a while.

On the whole though, the feedback has been good.

We have also got some good news in relation to the bid for European funding for a future firefighting project and made it through the first phase. We haven't got the money yet and we have more phases - but obviously it's a step forward.

As an illustration of how important this could be for the future, though, I thought I would share just one of the approaches we are considering.

'Lance (cutting) technology' has been around in other sectors for years but has recently been used to design a new system and method for extinguishing fires. 

In essence, the approach utilises a lance (which looks like a jet washer with attitude) to produce a very small jet of water at 300 bars pressure into which can also be entrained a cutting abrasive. 

This jet of water can quickly cut through most materials including walls, doors and reinforced concrete slabs. During a recent demonstration the technology was challenged to cut through a 5mm steel armoured plate and it took just seven seconds. 

As water at 300 bars pressure will break up into much smaller droplets than it will do at lower pressures, the surface area and ability to absorb heat massively increases.

The temperature in the average sized room fire, for example, can be dropped from flashover levels to normal levels in about a minute, with just 60 litres of water using this system and method.

This 'could' be a massive step forward not just in firefighter safety but in property protection / damage - and could fundamentally change our tactics for a lot of incidents. Indeed it 'could' be the next big change in a similar vein to the introduction of breathing apparatus or the shift from hose to hose reels.

In future, rather than opening doors and running the risk of flashover / backdraft - we could just punch through the door or the wall with water - cool everything down and remove the risk; instead of designing more and more thermally layered fire kit. If we then move forward with the pressure fans and new thermal image cameras we start to envisage very different ways of fighting fires in future.

Of course there is lots of work and research to do - and there are issues of cost, reliability, training, etc. But the kit is proven in other sectors and so offers some exciting prospects.

As we move forward, though, we will be very keen to ensure we engage and involve operational personnel so that we don't end up with any white elephants.

Last update: 23/04/2012 09:35:53
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