As the new year waited to be seen in around the world, news hit of a terrifying looking fire in a high-rise hotel in Dubai. In a world that has seen the awful implications of such things via the live footage of the Twin Towers collapsing, it made for spine chilling viewing.
Fires in such high buildings represents a significant challenge to fire fighters hoping to douse the flames. One very left field suggestion has been to equip fire fighters with jet packs to help them tackle fires high up in tall buildings.
“We see them performing a first-responder role,” said Lt Col Ali Hassan Almutawa, director of the Dubai Civil Defence Operations Department, according to the BBC. Almutawa added that they’d be especially good for handling fires in skyscrapers: “Sometimes, in fires, people go to the top of the building. You cannot always get ladders there, and you cannot always use the elevators.”
Suffice to say, this all seems a bit like science fiction, but a more sensible alternative may soon be available. The Automist Smartscan aims to build smarter rooms that combat fires themselves rather than relying on human fire fighters.
The system is mounted on the wall and uses heat sensors to monitor the room for potential fires. If any are identified, it then uses an infrared camera to locate the hottest part of the room, and then deploys a jet of misty spray at the fire source.
The makers believe their system is much better than traditional ceiling mounted spinkler systems because they use much less water, with the team suggesting just 1.5 gallons are used per minute compared to 30 gallons in sprinklers.
The targeted nature of the deployment also makes it more effective than the random sprinkling of water. The system is also very easy to install and can be retrofitted onto existing structures, with a connection to the mains and boiler systems all that’s required.
It’s a fascinating approach that has a wide range of potential applications. Check out the video below to see the system in action.