New tech for fighting fire: Water gun that cuts through steel walls could save firefighter lives

Friday, March 02, 2018 by

A new type of water gun has been invented for firefighters to make their work easier and their lives much safer. Dubbed the PyroLance, it’s essentially a gun that blasts water with such intense pressure that it can penetrate barriers and take care of burning flames in a just matter of seconds. And it’s already being used by some people in the U.S. Air Force as well as the U.S. Navy.

According to its creators, PyroLance was designed to pierce through basic conventional materials like steel, concrete, brick, or even bulletproof glass. It does this by using highly pressurized water and granite, which it uses to puncture a 3-millimeter wide hole on the barrier through which it can spray water and pelt out fires.

Its makers describe the PyroLance as a transitional attack tool, which is said to change the way firefighters gain entry and approach compartment fires in burning buildings or structures. This is seen as a way to enable firefighters to assert control of interior fire conditions before entering any structure or involved fire zones.

You can probably imagine how useful such a breakthrough gadget could be, in terms of decreasing the time it takes to spray water into burning buildings — in case the fires are enclosed in them. However, there are some in the firefighting industry who think its use also has some potentially negative consequences.

In an interview with CNNMoney, the Scott Alexander of PyroLance, the president behind the namesake company, had to go on record to say that he found it difficult to convince current firefighters that they weren’t going to be put out of business by the technology behind their product. “The reality is we’re trying to keep them safe,” Alexander explained.

PyroLance is a system that covers all the underlying technology, and costs anywhere between $15,000 to $80,000, according to a report.

Based on information from the official PyroLance website, their product relies on what is called Ultra-High Pressure (UHP) technology to serve its function. UHP is what allows the PyroLance “gun” to pierce barriers rather quickly, and it’s also how PyroLance can spray tiny droplets of water repetitively, which eventually works to break down any barriers that might be in front of it.

Official figures state that the PyroLance can puncture a double brick faced wall or plywood in just 30 seconds, a whole concrete block in 35 seconds, a flat sheet of aluminum in just 10 seconds, and even a FedEx cargo plane in just three seconds.

Compared with so-called traditional attack lines, UHP and PyroLance also offer a much more efficient way of using water. In typical scenarios, up to 90 percent of normal pressure water becomes wasted, but UHP makes it so that a full 90 percent is used efficiently in taking care of fires.

Alexander then went on to say that the goal of applying the technology behind PyroLance is to prevent toxic smoke environments, intense heat, and deadly backdrafts from getting in the way of firefighters. As a line from the official PyroLance website states, “Firefighters can manage the thermal layer while remaining outside in a safe, shielded, defensive position.”

Part of what makes the PyroLance system so effective is the fact that the gun used doesn’t create any sparks whatsoever. It doesn’t produce any heat when in use, either. This allows it to quickly breach most types of materials without causing any further harm.

The above qualities make it a versatile tool for fire management, and give firefighters options in the highly dangerous environment of their “workplace.”

Catch more innovative uses of technology in

Sources include:[PDF]


comments powered by Disqus