Airport Fire Fighting Vehicles deployed by industrial and municipal fire services.
Since the end of 2020, a Rosenbauer PANTHER can be seen racing through a South Korean nuclear power plant instead of the usual airport tarmac. It is not the only vehicle of this series that is not operated by an airport fire department. Industrial companies in Australia, the United States or Germany also deploy the PANTHER as a special kind of fire fighting vehicle, and in South Korea and Abu Dhabi fire services even use it in municipal operations. A local inspection of three extraordinary emergency scenes.
On the east coast of South Korea, Korea Hydro & Nuclear Power Corp. operates the Wolsong nuclear power plant - and the plant fire department has a PANTHER 6x6 HRET (High Reach Extendable Turret). In addition to its speed (120 km/h top speed) and the large quantity of extinguishing agent it can transport (up to 14,000 l), it is above all the high extinguishing capacity in combination with the STINGER boom that makes the PANTHER 6x6 interesting for industrial companies: 9,000 l of extinguishing agent can be applied in one minute via the front and HRET turrets. The fire fighting water can be thrown over a distance of 90 m, which means that the STINGER can be operated from a great distance to the burning object. And firefighting can also be carried out from an elevated position (16.5 m or 20.0 m).
Extinguishing arm with special tool
An important feature in the industrial use of a PANTHER is its piercing tool, a hydraulically driven piercing lance that sits next to the turret on the STINGER tip. With this special tool, the fire department can penetrate a building shell (e.g. a hall or container wall) and introduce water from the outside without having to send the emergency crews in for the inside fire attack. The turret and extinguishing lance are equipped with color and infrared cameras and the entire firefighting equipment of the vehicle can be controlled remotely so that firefighting can be carried out with high precision and at a large safety distance from the source of danger. In addition, the PANTHER at the Wolsong power plant is equipped with a tire pressure control system to maintain its driving function under all circumstances.
Extinguishing with high performance foam
But the PANTHER in the nuclear power plant is the absolute exception. Much more often, the vehicle is found in the crude oil industry and there, for example, in refineries such as the German PCK Schwedt, which supplies Berlin and Brandenburg with petrol (gasoline), paraffin, diesel and heating oil. Since mid-2021, the plant fire department has been using a PANTHER 6x6 HRET, which in addition to the normal firefighting equipment has a system for generating compressed air foam on board.
Compressed air foam has a much more homogeneous structure than conventionally produced fire fighting foam, adheres better to the flammable material, and causes more water to evaporate, thus cooling the seat of the fire to the maximum. The high performance foam also has a significantly higher energy content, thus penetrating deeper into the flammable material and allowing large throwing ranges and heights (safety distance!). It also forms a separating layer between the flammable material and the oxygen, which increases burn-back safety. Only fluorine-free foam extinguishing agent is used at the Schwedt refinery.
Use in the city
The Abu Dhabi Civil Defence, responsible for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the capital of the same name, also has a PANTHER in its vehicle fleet. It is a PANTHER 6x6 S which, due to its width of 2.5 m, can drive on public roads without a special permit. The vehicle is always alerted as a "first responder" in the event of a particularly challenging or large-scale operation requiring various extinguishing agents (water, foam, powder) and a high extinguishing capacity. The same applies to the five PANTHERS operated by the fire departments in the South Korean urban provinces of Busan and Ulan.
Away from the airport
In addition, PANTHERS stationed at airports also go out on missions outside their designated emergency areas. Wherever the vehicles are approved and provided with separate road authorization, as is the case in France, Switzerland, Japan or Australia, they support other fire services at major events, air traffic permitting. For example, the PANTHERS at Australian airports are incorporated into the nationwide wildland fire fighting system and can be requested via the National Resource Sharing Centre in the event of an emergency. But they can also be called in to help by neighboring fire departments, as was the case in 2019 with a major fire at a waste disposal plant near Linz Airport. No less than 19 fire departments with 35 vehicles and around 250 firefighters were involved in fighting the fire, including a crew from the airport fire department with one of their PANTHERs.
In operation for the PCK Schwedt plant fire department.
The PANTHER fits perfectly into the factory area.
PANTHER 6x6 with HRET.
Stunning extinguishing technology.
The PANTHER outside its natural environment.