Lincolnshire Fire and Rescue are to become the first Service in the country to adopt new Cobra equipment as part of a new integrated firefighting strategy.
The Cobra Coldcut extinguishing equipment (pictured) is a super-high-pressured water system that cuts through materials and extinguishes fires and will be delivered this summer.
Used for nearly any type of incident
The equipment infuses water with tiny pieces of metal and shoots it through a lance in a high-powered spray that can cut through plastic, wood, metal and even concrete to gain entry to a fire.
It can be used in nearly any type of incident, including loft, basement, ducting, rural, high-rise, thatch, stack, and vehicle fires, but will prove particularly efficient in compartment fires.
Improved strategic firefighting method
Although other fire services in the country have purchased the equipment, Lincolnshire will be the first to combine it into an improved strategic and tactical firefighting method.
Lincolnshire’s Operational Doctrine Officer Ken Baker said the system will provide a number of benefits to the Service, including increasing firefighter safety.
“The system has been proven very effective at attacking and controlling fires without the need to insert firefighters directly into the situation, as well as reducing room temperature and reducing the risks of flashovers, backdrafts, steam burns and other hazards," he said.
“It also uses much less water than other techniques, meaning less damage to property and better-preserved evidence for fire investigation. Overall, the introduction of the new equipment will mean minimal risk, minimal damage and minimal resources used.”
Entry in less than a minute
First, state-of-the-art handheld thermal imaging cameras (TICs) featuring a search capacity will be used to find temperature discrepancies, allowing the seat of the fire to be identified from a safe distance.
Once the seat of the fire is located, Cobra equipment will be to efficiently gain entry through a door, wall or window frame – often in less than a minute. Lance jets then fire a fine spray of water (without the metal particles) through the hole to bring the fire under control; within minutes, the temperature of the room is cooled to a tolerable level for breathing apparatus (BA) wearers.
The Cobra system also makes tactical ventilation of the scene using positive pressure ventilation (PPV) fans easier.
Both the Cobra equipment and the firefighting technique originated in Sweden, where buildings are constructed of wood and well-insulated against the extremely cold temperatures and firefighters see a number of serious compartment fires.
To reduce the occurrences of backdrafts, Swedish firefighters adopted a procedure of cutting holes in roofs for ventilation, but this posed a risk that firefighters could fall through the holes.
Swedish firefighters then adapted their technique for using the Cobra Coldcut equipment and began using the high-powered cutting system from hydraulic platforms (HPs), which reduced firefighter risk while proving a practical entry and extinguishment solution.