projectghostThis year's IFE Mid Western Branch AGM will look at the potential of robotic firefighting and feature a special presentation by QinetiQ Technical Lead, Robert Pink MBE.

Mr. Pink's talk will focus on Project GHOST, QinetiQ's blue light service which uses fire-fighting robots or remote operated vehicles (ROV'c) derived from bomb disposal robots to aid in dealing with incidents that involve cylinders, CBRN, other types of hazardous materials and in one case a container full of fireworks which was on fire.

There will also be the 2013 Mid Western Branch AGM after lunch. There will be a demonstration of some of the robots as well as a presentation highlighting some of the incidents that have been attended by Project GHOST. Mr. Pink explained: "At least 2 fire-fighters in the UK have been killed directly by exploding cylinders. One in 1987, a Sub Officer was killed when he was handling an Acetylene cylinder that had been involved in a relatively small fire at a quarry building. The other was a fire-fighter killed when an LPG cylinder exploded in a derelict community hall, who was unaware of the cylinders presence.

"The dangers of any cylinder, not just fuel gases involved in fire, potentially causing them to explode are well documented. The extra risks associated with Acetylene cylinders in particular mean that unless the cylinder involved in fire is positively identified as such, any cylinder is treated as containing Acetylene. This means that a 200m exclusion zone will need to be established with 24 hour cooling applied to the cylinder unless specific procedures can be put into place to confirm the cylinder has cooled enough to be safe from exploding.

"These procedures were put into place in part as a result of the 1987 incident. Incidents involving Acetylene cylinders (or involving unidentified cylinders) cause very significant local disruption to residents, businesses, services and transport networks on roads, rail and in the air at times. A quick conclusion to these types of incident are obviously advantageous however there are times where it is simply not safe to use fire-fighters to assess and cool cylinders. QinetiQ's robots can often go where fire-fighters cant and this can lead to a safe and quick resolution of the incident saving the obvious disruption and clearly making the incident safer for fire-fighters in particular. There is clearly also potential for robots to deal with New Dimension (CBRN) incidents of many different types assisting not only the Fire and Rescue Services but also the Police, Ambulance and Armed Forces.

Kenneth Pink MBE has been involved with the robots since their inception in the 1970's. Ken worked on the Tactical Robots Group, the division that designed all the bomb disposal robots used by the UK MoD. Ken is the technical lead for Project GHOST, QinetiQ’s Blue light service to provide ROV support to UK Emergency services.

Following a period of training at the Swedish Military Academy he represented the EU investigating the potential to use ROVs for clearing UXOs in Bosnia. From 2004-2010 he was the formal UK representative to NATO chairing the Platforms committee for land based remote controlled vehicles (ROV's). Last year he visited Laos working with the Mine Clearance teams to undertake research work investigating methods of rendering safe heavy ordnance and AP mines left over from the Vietnam war. 

If you wish to attend the event, members should ensure subscriptions for 2013 are paid and can be sent to Pete Moore at HQ (£5). Please remember that you must be a member of the main IFE and hold a current grade of membership to be eligible for branch membership. You can join the IFE via the main IFE website at

Mid Western Branch also request nominations for the committee roles within the branch. These should be forwarded to (with the nominees consent) for any of the committee roles (President, vice president, secretary, membership officer, event co-ordinator and treasurer).

See the full agenda here.

Please book lunch and a space if required via this email, ( lunch won't be available to individuals unless it is pre-booked due to the expected high number of attendees. If you book, please turn up or cancel within a suitable timescale as food is prepared in advance and there is a cost to this. This is a free CPD event, you must sign in at the event on the forms provided to be eligible to receive a CPD certificate.