Special tanks help fight urban and forest fires

Updated: 2015-12-28 08:23

By ZHAO LEI(China Daily)

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Special tanks help fight urban and forest fires

Firefighting tanks can cross half-meter-high obstacles and spray water as far as 65 meters. ZHANG LIHONG/CHINA DAILY

China's largest land arms producer, China North Industries Group Corp, has developed a series of firefighting tanks that can be used in urban areas and to control forest blazes.

Made by Inner Mongolia First Machinery, a subsidiary, the tanks are in service with at least 28 firefighting departments in Shandong, Shaanxi, Shanxi and Hunan provinces.

The latest type, designed to control forest fires, has received 50 orders and is being delivered to buyers, China North Industries said in a statement.

With the chassis and armor of a military tank, the vehicles can protect crew members from fire, explosions, building collapses and can cross half-meter-high obstacles or 2-meter-wide trenches. They have an automatic spray device and fireproof coating that can prevent scorching heat from spreading inside the vehicles.

Compared with fire engines, the tanks can get closer to blaze scenes and be used for search-and-rescue missions, according to the statement.

Using 520-horsepower diesel engines and equipped with hydraulic devices, the tanks can clear obstacles weighing up to 15 metric tons. Their metal tracks allow them to operate on slopes, in rocky terrain and among the debris of collapsed buildings.

The water cannon on the vehicles can spray water as far as 65 meters. A secondary water gun, which can be fitted if required, can be used to disperse rioters.

Buyers can choose to install a sensor that can detect flammable and toxic gases, the company said.

"A single tank can spray nearly 15 tons of water onto a fire within 1 minute-equivalent to the capacity of six fire engines," said a firefighter in Taiyuan, Shanxi province, who wanted to be identified only as Fang.

"It can operate deep into a fire scene without putting the firefighters' safety at risk. It has good mobility and protection, allowing us to handle dangerous situations such as chemical blasts and toxic leaks."

He said many injuries to firefighters are caused by explosions and buildings collapsing as they enter a blaze scene where debris has prevented fire engines from getting closer.

Russia and Germany have also transformed old tanks into firefighting vehicles.