Non military use of unmanned systems - emergency services and other Government departments

Yokel

LE
Fire brigades have other quicker and more easily deployable kit for DIM (detection identification and monitoring).

Also chem lorries have the contents written on the side so you’ve already got a fairly good idea what the hazards are.

Due to the fact that DIM kit is also used to identify explosives / IEDs etc. The specific details of it and how it works is not something you’ll find in the public domain, but I can tell you that drones won’t bring much to the party.

It’s worth remembering that drones are not the answer to everything. They’re very useful for certain tasks but most of the time more simpler methods will suffice. They’re also fairly limited in when and where they can be used. As soon as you start becoming reliant on UAVs to do jobs, you very quickly lose the ability to do those jobs in high winds, rain, congested air space etc.

In my capacity as a reservist, a few years back I was working with an organisation called SALMO. They do all the maritime salvage work for the MOD. They had a really Gucci little remote controlled submarine for doing below waterline surveys on damaged ships.

It was very expensive and very cool.

However it only worked in perfectly calm and clear water. A camera on a long stick did a much better job and was the preferred method. The submarine never came out of the box.

Where I currently work we jumped into the UAV world with both feet. We invested a lot of cash in people and kit and now we use them for all sorts of jobs. We are definitely an industry leader and possibly a world leader in certain areas of UAV use. I regularly speak at conferences about them.

However, there are a lot of very tall chimney type structures where I work. A lot of the jobs we use UAVs for could actually be done by fixed cameras on top of these chimneys. There are many benefits to this approach: The cameras are cheaper, they’re always switched on, lots of cameras can be operated by one person in a nice warm room, the time to deploy them is zero because they’re already there, you aren’t restricted on lens size because it doesn’t have to fly, there is no risk of crashing one into a person or piece of equipment that could explode etc.

I was not just talking about UAVs. But I do wonder to what extent can risks to emergency personnel be reduced by using remotely controlled sensors, and can they be used to increase the effectiveness of finite personnel numbers?

My old brigade uses drones/toy planes for observation and ir surveillance on the fire ground.

The problem with the present tech is size. Too big for small jobs, too small for big jobs.

Specialised industries would need to provide their own equipment as the local authority would not fund it.

I imagine the chemical and nuclear sectors do their own Research and Development. I assume developnent of equipment for the emergency services is conducted at a national basis.
 
I imagine the chemical and nuclear sectors do their own Research and Development. I assume developnent of equipment for the emergency services is conducted at a national basis.
No national standards with the drones, effectively each brigade goes their own way. If the tech proves popular then national standards are drawn up. Examples being digitisation of breathing apparatus control boards and canine use in fire investigation.

As far as the fire brigade goes I can see it will be years in the future with a more developed and mature sector before robotics makes significant inroads.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Yep everyone has different kit.

My local force come to us (a company in the chemical and nuclear sector) for advice on UAV matters.

There was even talk about us “going halves” on some kit at one point and our guys flying it on a service level agreement for plod.

Never came to fruition.
 

theoriginalphantom

MIA
Book Reviewer

this has flown over my house a couple of times.

from what was being said at the beginning of lockdown 1 the trail was always planned before covid was known as the ferrys don't always run and of course, don't run on request but a timetable. the fast cat and hovercraft are even more reliant on good weather. Helicopters have been used but are a bit pricey.
the timetable for this trial was pushed through a lot faster because of covid.
 
Interesting stuff. What about something like an overturned tanker lorry on the motorway, when it would be useful if @BossHogg and his oppos to test to see the chemicals are leaking, or if it is safe to approach?

Would an infra red camera be useful for looking for a survivor in water?
If we have an overturned LGV leaking who knows what, I put a rolling block on and stop the traffic a mile back and leave the water fairies to deal with it. ;)
 

Yokel

LE
Yep everyone has different kit.

My local force come to us (a company in the chemical and nuclear sector) for advice on UAV matters.

There was even talk about us “going halves” on some kit at one point and our guys flying it on a service level agreement for plod.

Never came to fruition.

What to say to that?

Surely the Home Office (and devolved equivalents) have overall responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services, and should coordinate things like R and D, just as Scientific and Technical work for the Police is managed and directed?

Maybe national or regional units are needed, with links to industry and academia?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
What to say to that?

Surely the Home Office (and devolved equivalents) have overall responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services, and should coordinate things like R and D, just as Scientific and Technical work for the Police is managed and directed?

Maybe national or regional units are needed, with links to industry and academia?

There is certainly some direction in terms of what capability they need to have, but what they buy and how they fulfil this capability is largely down to the local service.

My local fire service is technically part of the county council. I assume that’s the case in most other counties?

Having spent quite a bit of time in various fire engine factories, I’m aware that this is a pain in the arse for the manufacturers.

Each service has different requirements and different layouts for kit etc. This is largely down to “the way it’s always been.”

So for example, LFB might keep their cutting gear in the back left locker on a fire engine, while East Midlands might keep it in the front right locker. It’s always been this way and neither service will budge.

So there is no standardised fire engine that can serve the needs of both services. When they build them, they are always bespoke. There is no “off the shelf” solution.
 

Yokel

LE
There is certainly some direction in terms of what capability they need to have, but what they buy and how they fulfil this capability is largely down to the local service.

My local fire service is technically part of the county council. I assume that’s the case in most other counties?

Having spent quite a bit of time in various fire engine factories, I’m aware that this is a pain in the arse for the manufacturers.

Each service has different requirements and different layouts for kit etc. This is largely down to “the way it’s always been.”

So for example, LFB might keep their cutting gear in the back left locker on a fire engine, while East Midlands might keep it in the front right locker. It’s always been this way and neither service will budge.

So there is no standardised fire engine that can serve the needs of both services. When they build them, they are always bespoke. There is no “off the shelf” solution.

Lunacy! I thought that the "we have always done it like this" type of thinking had been consigned to the dustbin of history after nearly costing us two World Wars and a huge amount of our industry - shipbuilders unable to change, car manufacturers who refused to adapt, old geezers who moan that schools are not what they were in the good old days....

Bah!
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Lunacy! I thought that the "we have always done it like this" type of thinking had been consigned to the dustbin of history after nearly costing us two World Wars and a huge amount of our industry - shipbuilders unable to change, car manufacturers who refused to adapt, old geezers who moan that schools are not what they were in the good old days....

Bah!

To be fair there is some thought process behind it.

The needs of LFB will be very different to the needs of a rural fire service. Likewise specialist industrial fire services will need kit that is entirely bespoke for what they’re doing.

My local service operate a couple of Unimog 4x4 fire tenders because they sometimes have to attend farms halfway up mountains and what not. Also most of their “normal” fire tenders are a bit smaller than the ones you see elsewhere as they have to get round tight country lanes.

Not the sort of thing you need or want in a major city.

We’re also a lot poorer up here and the kit is generally much older than what the bigger services have.

Totally different operating context and needs to other areas.
 
So there is no standardised fire engine that can serve the needs of both services. When they build them, they are always bespoke. There is no “off the shelf” solution.
Perhaps if it was and the resulting appliance was a few k cheaper, eventually all brigades would have standard kit?

Money talks.
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Perhaps if it was and the resulting appliance was a few k cheaper, eventually all brigades would have standard kit?

Money talks.

It’s just not really viable.

Think of the servicing and maintenance for a start. Let’s say one fire service entirely run on Mercedes chassis appliances. Their entire parts supply chain and servicing department is set up for that. They have contracts in place with Mercedes.

Then the government say you have to change everything to MAN now because we can save 10 grand per appliance that we buy.

It’s false economy.

There is also more than one manufacturer of fire appliances in the U.K. standardisation assumes that these manufacturers can agree on a standard design and build it to the same standard and price.
 
Aye, when you put it that way.

How many fire engines are there in the UK, there can't be all that many? Many stations only have one, so it can't be much more than a couple of thousand?
 
What to say to that?

Surely the Home Office (and devolved equivalents) have overall responsibility for Fire and Rescue Services, and should coordinate things like R and D, just as Scientific and Technical work for the Police is managed and directed?

Maybe national or regional units are needed, with links to industry and academia?
Part of the problem with that is the fundamental difference between the police and fire service. The police job, generally speaking, is roughly the same all over the country whilst the fire service can be fundamentally different. Think of a county area with little industry, the odd town when compared with another area of big industry and large population or a county with little other than a refinery or a nuclear power station.
 
It’s just not really viable.

Think of the servicing and maintenance for a start. Let’s say one fire service entirely run on Mercedes chassis appliances. Their entire parts supply chain and servicing department is set up for that. They have contracts in place with Mercedes.

Then the government say you have to change everything to MAN now because we can save 10 grand per appliance that we buy.

It’s false economy.

There is also more than one manufacturer of fire appliances in the U.K. standardisation assumes that these manufacturers can agree on a standard design and build it to the same standard and price.
Bring back the Green Goddess.
 

Yokel

LE
Perhaps if it was and the resulting appliance was a few k cheaper, eventually all brigades would have standard kit?

Money talks.

Bearing in mind what @Ravers said about country roads you would need different versions.

The lack of standardisation could cause problems, for example if a firefighter moves from one brigade to another, or if different brigades give mutual aid experience issues with compatibility.

I assume that hose and hydrant sizes are standard, but what about things such as pump capacity and water pressure? Before Airwave, did they even have compatible communication systems?
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
Bearing in mind what @Ravers said about country roads you would need different versions.

The lack of standardisation could cause problems, for example if a firefighter moves from one brigade to another, or if different brigades give mutual aid experience issues with compatibility.

I assume that hose and hydrant sizes are standard, but what about things such as pump capacity and water pressure? Before Airwave, did they even have compatible communication systems?

Even within the same station you have vehicles with different pumps and pressures. In fact it’s the norm. A lot of stations will have two completely different types of appliance that are from different manufacturers and are different ages.

However they will have been built to that brigades spec at the time, so they will have some similarities.

There will obviously be some new stuff to learn if transferring form one brigade to another but it’s hardly rocket science. It’s just getting familiar with that vehicle and very slightly different kit.

Lack of standardisation isn’t a massive problem.
 
There is certainly some direction in terms of what capability they need to have, but what they buy and how they fulfil this capability is largely down to the local service.

My local fire service is technically part of the county council. I assume that’s the case in most other counties?

Having spent quite a bit of time in various fire engine factories, I’m aware that this is a pain in the arse for the manufacturers.

Each service has different requirements and different layouts for kit etc. This is largely down to “the way it’s always been.”

So for example, LFB might keep their cutting gear in the back left locker on a fire engine, while East Midlands might keep it in the front right locker. It’s always been this way and neither service will budge.

So there is no standardised fire engine that can serve the needs of both services. When they build them, they are always bespoke. There is no “off the shelf” solution.
We came up with a standardised way of putting the kit in our cars, that way I can jump in a patrol car anywhere in the country and know immediately where everything is despite never having been in that car before. ;)
 
To be fair there is some thought process behind it.

The needs of LFB will be very different to the needs of a rural fire service. Likewise specialist industrial fire services will need kit that is entirely bespoke for what they’re doing.

My local service operate a couple of Unimog 4x4 fire tenders because they sometimes have to attend farms halfway up mountains and what not. Also most of their “normal” fire tenders are a bit smaller than the ones you see elsewhere as they have to get round tight country lanes.

Not the sort of thing you need or want in a major city.

We’re also a lot poorer up here and the kit is generally much older than what the bigger services have.

Totally different operating context and needs to other areas.
Plus the majority of our FRS are retained part timers, we only have 5 full time stations in the county. ;)
 

Ravers

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
We came up with a standardised way of putting the kit in our cars, that way I can jump in a patrol car anywhere in the country and know immediately where everything is despite never having been in that car before. ;)

Try telling that to the fire brigades around the country.

I suppose it’s also down to what kit they carry. Presumably your mob all carry the same kit regardless of where they are?

Some traffic cones, first aid kit, spill kit etc.

Let’s say Cumbria FRS use a certain make and model of cutting gear. The racks in their fire engines are designed so this gear fits nicely in it.

If everyone were to adopt identical fire engines, they’d also all have to adopt the same makes and models of cutting gear, plus all the other shit they lug around. There is a big difference between Holmatro kit and Aerogo kit for example.

It would be a massive job and massive cost to standardise everything. You’d basically have to start from scratch, bin everything and re-equip every fire service in the country with identical kit.
 
I can understand that, like you said, different areas present different problems when it comes to dealing with them. Merseyside fire and rescue have what was known locally as Thunderbird 2. It was an appliance that picked up a pod specifically for the incident it was attending, it had several different pods, it cut down on more vehicles and worked out cheaper in maintenance costs.
 

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