Bleeding Edge

by Brett

Firefighters Don't Want To Put Out Old Ideas

from the more-you-know dept

While there have been recent advances in firefighting technology, they have focused on either using existing methods more effectively (like "magic carpets" and suction cups) or improving rescue methods (like flying platforms and special parachutes). As for actually putting out the fires, it seems not much has changed. A fire chief in a small Oregon town is taking on the macho traditions of his profession with more nuanced firefighting techniques that rely on thermal-imaging and small bursts of mist. This new "3-D" approach is aimed at first controlling the gases that can lead to extreme conditions like backdrafts and explosions before dousing the fire with strong streams of water. 3-D firefighting was developed in Sweden and is being used there and the U.K. with apparent success at reducing firefighter deaths. In the U.S., though, this flies in the face of all the imagery associated with firefighting -- brute strength, massive amounts of water, big heavy equipment. Just a handful of small departments are taking the new technology seriously, while some of the larger ones (like San Francisco) are actually moving further away from it with older-style hoses. Skeptics (who seem to make up most of the profession) tried to replicate the technique and concluded that it was ineffective and potentially dangerous. Proponents say the experiment was performed incorrectly, and merely served to confirm the doubts of hidebound traditionalists. That's too bad. What harm could it do to put 3-D techniques through more fair and rigorous testing and give them a chance to prove their worth? It could actually save lives. Apparently it already has in Europe.

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  • identicon
    Joe Baderderm, 3 Jun 2005 @ 8:34am

    Blame it on Hollywood (again)!

    I just watched "Ladder 49" the other day and using the 3-D technique probably isn't as exciting as crashing through a home and spraying water everywhere. Maybe if they can get Denis Leary to use the technique on "Rescue Me" and then hook up with the girl that he wouldn't have been able to save without the 3-D technique, then other firefighters might try it.

    Also, the SFFD doesn't want to try a "fog" based technique? That's too funny.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

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