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