The Los Angeles Fire Department unveiled the first robotic fire engine in the United States and used it on its first day of action. The robot is manufactured by Textron: Howe & Howe Technologies and is called Thermite RS3. The robot is compact and has a low center of gravity and a wide chassis. It is classified as an industrial robotic fire engine.
It can flow 2500 gallons per minute and is remotely controlled by a controller that provides the operator with HD video feedback for maneuverability in rough terrain. The department says the RS3 isn’t the answer for all types of fire fighting. It will aid in safe indoor fires in large commercial fires, timber frame structures under construction, structural defenses and forest fires, large animal rescues, fuel tanker fires, auto storage fires, and much more.
The LAFD Foundation received a generous donation for the purchase of the robot and donated it to the fire department. The foundation notes that without the support of donors it would have been impossible to add the technology to their fleet. On the same day that the robot was unveiled to the public, it was used in a fire in the area of a commercial emergency service early in the morning.
The robot will be stationed at Fire Station 3 in downtown LA and will be part of the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. It is used by a trailer specifically for the machine being pulled by a pickup truck. The fire brigade operators were trained with the help of Textron developers. These officers are considered trainers and help develop other operators across the department.
The robot has impressive specifications and is powered by an internal combustion engine that provides 20 hours of operation without refueling. The technical data are as follows:
- 3500 lbs.
- 5’5 “wide
- 5’5 ″ tall
- 7 ‘long
- 8 mph top speed
- 8,000 lbs. Winch
- 50% incline
- 35% lateral incline
- Front plow knife for pushing dirt including vehicles
- Compatible with interchangeable accessories for future needs
- 36 hp diesel engine
- Running time of 20 hours without refueling
- Hose stream reach of 300 feet horizontally and 150 feet vertically
- 2,500 GPM