Red Alert

Red Alert

I have boarded over a dozen flights in this calendar year so far, travelling to different parts of the country for different events. Every airport I checked in had a different story to tell, a different culture to boast. Twice my flight got delayed and I was super pissed off for not getting home on time. This more or less sums up everyone’s life on the go. We want everything on time. This time I went to an airport, but the journey was different though. A bunch of journos were called at the Bengaluru airport to witness how the airport safety facilities work and how the routine activities like cleaning, sweeping, follow me cars, etc., are carried so that flights can take off and land at their scheduled time end result being people reaching home on time. Bengaluru airport recently acquired new generation of Rosenbauer fire truck and we were demonstrated on their.

“The massive 18-litre heart makes the 40 tonne truck sprint from 0-80kmph in 25 seconds with a top speed of 120kmph.”

The big red giant you see in pictures is the Rosenbauer fire truck named as PANTHER. Before you make any guess works, let me cut down to the chase – the humongous creature weighs 40 tonnes, it is powered by a mammoth 18-litre engine (yes, you read that right) and it develops 705bhp of maximum power. The massive heart makes the truck sprint from 0-80kmph in 25 seconds with a top speed of 120kmph. The total water storage capacity is 12,500 litres while the foam storage capacity is 1,500 litres.

A mock drill on a emergency fire situation was demonstrated where the regular mock drill sessions are also conducted to demonstrate us how the officers respond and also how the fire truck works.  On our demo drill, two trucks were employed by the authorities and 200 litres of fuel was burnt. As soon as the flames went up, the trucks came swiftly and put the fire off in 10 seconds flat with over 80 per cent of water still left in the reservoir. The Rosenbauer PANTHER gets nozzles with an output capacity of up to 10,000 litres/min with automatic foam proportioning system.

The Rosenbauer PANTHER is equipped with three water nozzle outlet positions. One at the extreme top of the driver’s cabin, second at the nose of the vehicle and the third outlet is at the bottom of the body overhangs which sprays water in a linear shower form to address any fire at the ground. The top turret has a discharge volume capacity of 6000 litres/min while the front turret posses a discharge capacity of 1500 litres/min. Bengaluru airport currently has four such fire trucks which are on tap 24×7.

In case any aeroplane catches fire anywhere across the widespread area of the airport, the team is ready to reach the location in less than two minutes. The water jet possess enough water pressure to even tear the metal body of the aircraft to extinguish fire if need be. The airport’s Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) team claims that Bengaluru is a leading airport to employ these modern fire trucks in the country.

“The water jet possess enough water pressure to even tear the metal body of the aircraft to extinguish fire if need be.”

After the mock drill was over, we were briefed about the other fleet of machines which play a vital role in the smooth processing of routine activities of the airport. Due to continuous flight traffic, the runway keeps on accumulating rubber from the aircraft tyres and over time the friction does down. The airport surface friction tester car surveys the runway every week and checks the friction co-efficient value. If the value is less than 0.5μ, the surface is cleaned. A rubber removal machine is used to clear the runway surface, it has a max cleanup speed of 800 metres/hour. Water jets mounted at the front of the truck spray pressurised water (1000-2500 bar) on the surface to erode the rubber and then vacuum pump sucks the rubber particles in the reservoir.

Other important machines like the road and line laser machine, follow me cars, mobile command post vehicles, etc are used. So the next time I realise my flight took off on time, I will thank these guys at every airport for doing their jobs with real integrity.

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