Singapore Civil Defence Force to use robots for fire-fighting and rescue operations
At the SCDF (Singapore Civil Defence Force) Workplan Seminar 2018, held on 18 April at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), Singapore’s Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, unveiled several technological innovations that are enhancing SCDF’s emergency response. These include a Life Detection Robot and a system for tracking the locations of fire-fighters in a burning building.
Minister Shanmugam said, “SCDF has had a very strong culture of innovation, bringing in technology for operational, practical purposes. Technologies like the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), Fire Medical Vehicles and the Unmanned Firefighting Machines. All of these have increased SCDF’s operational readiness and ability to fight emergencies that arise, and save lives.”
A Life Detection Robot designed to be used in rubble and debris. will help rescuers detect signs of human life during search and rescue operations. The robot is equipped with life detection sensors to pick up sound, heat and chemical releases from the human body. It will have 3-D mapping capability so the ground commander will know where there are signs of life, and what the environment is like for better appreciation of the situation during urban search and rescue operations. The final evaluation of this robot will take place this month.
Straits Times reported that a new portable emergency responder robot, the Red Rhino Robot (3R) for short, will also be used by SCDF. This will save manpower requirements, while also enhancing SCDF’s ability to deal with fires.
The Red Rhino Robot, is remotely controlled but it is also capable of autonomously detecting and fighting fires. The robot will be fitted into the sixth-generation Light Fire Attack Vehicle and equipped with compressed air foam and water.
Indoor Tracking System
SCDF is going to develop a new system to track the exact location of all the firefighters in a building and monitor their vital signs, to know if they are safe or if they are caught in an extreme heat situation. This will allow the commander to quickly decide to re-deploy, or withdraw the forces, or activate additional resources. This is not straightforward to accomplish in an extreme operating condition, such as a complex fire. SCDF has started a proof-of-concept project for this.
Upgraded HazMat vehicle
On its Facebook page, SCDF revealed that its SCDF HazMat Control Vehicle (HCV) has received a major transformation and upgrade. It is equipped with sophisticated capabilities, such as conducting onsite chemical sample analysis, and detecting and identifying hazardous chemical vapours from as far as 5 kilometres away. This will allow SCDF to take swift mitigation actions and provide the necessary public advisories to those in the affected area.
Onboard the HCV, a Mobile Transporter allows the HazMat Specialists to be rapidly deployed for thorough HazMat zoning and monitoring.
It also has an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) that can be easily deployed from a sliding launch pad for a wider area of onsite HazMat detection and monitoring.
A new exoskeleton was also revealed to allow firefighters to carry heavy equipment more easily. According to the Straits Times, more than 60 kg of load-bearing will be transferred from the wearer to the exoskeleton. Pneumatic pistons will help push responders up while climbing stairs.
The exoskeleton has been jointly developed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and local engineering firm, Hope Technik.
Expanded scope of myResponder app
In 2015, SCDF introduced the myResponder app to alert members of the public to nearby (within 400 m) cardiac arrest cases, so that they can provide simple intervention within the first few critical minutes.
SCDF has now expanded the scope of incidents covered by the Community First Responders (CFR) to include minor rubbish fires. There are more than 1,000 minor fires (such as rubbish chute/bin fire) that could easily be extinguished using publicly-available means.
This myResponder mobile app (fire module) was piloted in January this year. Mr K Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law, officially launched the new myResponder app (fire module) at the SCDF Workplan Seminar yesterday. Existing users of the app can update the app to activate this new module.
In the even of a minor fire, the responders accept the myResponder alert, and proceed to the given location to extinguish the fire using available means, such as nearby extinguishers, buckets of water, domestic water taps and hoses, or drencher systems for rubbish chutes. They can then provide SCDF with up to 3 photos for scene assessment. For a major incident, responders are advised to accept the myResponder alert, but not to proceed any closer to the given location. They can provide SCDF with up to 3 photos and 1 video of the developing incident, if it is safe to do so.