The firefighting industry is one that deals with rescuing people from accidents. Depending on the type of accident, the firefighting industry uses different types of tools and vehicles for rescuing purposes. Most of the fire fighting trucks are equipped with various tools, water tanks, and emergency medical apparatus. When considering the hydraulics in the firefighting industry, we can’t able to neglect the fact that hydraulics is there on every part of the industry.
From the fire truck to the tools utilized in emergency incidents, most of the operations rely on the power of pressurized fluid. The crane/ladder used for rescuing the public from fire accidents or trapped in high altitude conditions is one of the common examples of hydraulics. A special set of hydraulic rescue tools(jaws of life) is also commonly found in the firefighting industry. In this article, more details on hydraulics in fire service and rescue operations are detailed.
It is evident that the firefighting industry uses hydraulics and its tools and equipment are powered by pressurized hydraulic fluid. Then, what type of hydraulic fluid is selected? Firefighting and rescue equipment will operate at extreme environment conditions where temperature, pressure, and many other factors matter. In most of the conditions, the equipment will require continuous operations or they will deal with high-temperature situations like fire accidents. When a suitable hydraulic fluid is not selected, then the accident will become worse than expected.
This is why firefighting hydraulic systems usually prefer hydraulic fluid like phosphate-ester other than oil. Phosphate-ester fluid suitable for high-temperature operations is fire-resistant and it does not conduct electric charges. So, hydraulic hose leakages or long exposure to fire will not affect the safety of fire and rescue equipment or tools. Not only fluid selection, but it is also necessary to maintain the required fluid level and to prevent fluid contamination for efficient system performance.
If considering the basic hydraulic operation behind fire and rescue equipment, it is the electric motor or internal combustion engine that power the equipment. With this applied power, the pressurized hydraulic fluid will be pumped from the reservoir to other components of the system. This generated hydraulic energy can power the operation of multiple tools and equipment according to the control passed by the instructor. Like every hydraulic system, with a small applied force, greater hydraulic energy can be generated.
MAJOR HYDRAULIC APPLICATIONS IN THE FIREFIGHTING INDUSTRY ARE MENTIONED BELOW.
Aerial Apparatus: The aerial apparatus help the rescue team to reach high altitude. Turntable ladder, tiller truck and aerial platform use hydraulics for lifting purposes. The Telescopic hydraulic cylinder is used for these aerial apparatus to lock the ladder/platform at a specific height. These cylinders include four or five stages and it extends one after another from the largest diameter to smallest diameter. The major advantages of these aerial apparatus are safety and compact design with the ability to extend.
Heavy Rescue Vehicle: The heavy rescue vehicles are equipped with specialized equipment that is essential for different search and rescue operations like confined space rescue, trench rescue, structural collapse rescue, and water rescue. Railway heavy rescue is one such vehicle that is equipped with heavy hydraulic jacks and lifting cranes for handling rescue operations on derailed locomotives.
Swap Body Vehicles: The Swap-body or roll-off fire vehicles are a cost-effective and flexible solution that uses a specialized hitch and hydraulic system. On emergency conditions, the chassis of these swap-body vehicles can upload any number of PODs.
Hydraulic Rescue Tools(Jaws of Life): The hydraulic rescue tools also called jaws of life is piston-rod hydraulic tools that are normally used after vehicle accidents for rescue purposes. Cutter, spreader, ram, and multi-tools are commonly used rescue tools. Here, the cutter with metal blades uses hydraulic power to cut any type of metals. The hydraulic spreader contains two large metal fingers pressed together and they can be inserted in any narrow space to push apart metal panels with hydraulic power. Spreaders and ram perform the same function of pushing away obstacles. Finally, the multi-tools can offer multiple above-mentioned functions with one tool.
Hydraulic Fire Truck Generator: In the firefighting industry, electricity is an important factor is necessary for handling emergency situations. The hydraulic fire truck generators convert the hydraulic energy of machines to efficient electrical energy that is suitable for operating small devices to heavy work tools. These generators in the fire truck are compact and this makes it suitable for installing in different machines.
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