LA Fire Department Unveils Country's First Robotic Firefighting Device: 'An Incredible Resource'

The future of firefighting has officially arrived!

On Tuesday, the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD) unveiled its newest member of the squad: the Thermite RS3 robotic firefighting vehicle.

In a press release on its website, the LAFD said the robot was donated by the LAFD Foundation, a nonprofit organization that directly supports the department, and was the first of its kind in the United States.

"New challenges continue to emerge in the fire service and the LAFD is committed to leveraging technology to enhance firefighting operations while reducing risk to firefighters," the department stated.

With its yellow body, wide-base frame and compact design that is low to the ground, the Thermite RS3 has the ability to put out 2,500 gallons of water per minute, according to the press release.

Measuring in at 7 feet long and over 5 feet tall and weighing 3,500 pounds, the robot can also be remotely operated with a controller, which the LAFD said allows for firefighters to receive "high-definition video feedback for ultimate maneuverability in difficult conditions."

Its new capabilities were designed in order to protect firefighters from "a variety of large-scale scenarios that are either too dangerous or risky," the LAFD Foundation explained in an Instagram post.

"The RS3 is an incredible resource for battling commercial fires, fires involving combustible metals, hazmat incidents, tanker truck fires, and oil refinery fires," the foundation wrote of the "state-of-the-art" device.

Added the LAFD: "While the RS3 is not the answer to all types of firefighting, it will assist with safe interior fire operations on large commercial fires, wood-framed structures under construction, structural defense at wildfires, large animal rescues, fuel tanker fires, auto storage fires and much more."

Though the device was only introduced at a press conference on Tuesday, it already got some action earlier that morning when it helped put out a fire at a commercial structure, "proving its value from the start," according to the press release.

LAFD officials said the RS3 will stay at Fire Station 3 in Downtown Los Angeles as part of the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. When needed, the device will get picked up by a trailer, towed by a pick-up truck and brought to the scene, the press release stated.

On Wednesday there were more than 11,500 firefighters battling a total of 21 wildfires — 13 of which were considered major incidents — across the state, according to CalFire.

Since the beginning of 2020, over 8,500 wildfires have ravaged through 4.1 million acres in California, leaving at least 31 dead and 9,200 structures destroyed, CalFire reported.

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