Techsmart: Attack Under Pressure
By Olivia D’Orazio
The PyroLance is unlike anything most firefighters have ever seen, though the tool has been on the market for almost three years now.
By Olivia D’Orazio
The PyroLance is unlike anything most firefighters have ever seen, though the tool has been on the market for almost three years now. The Aurora, Colo.-based company of the same name has developed a nozzle that enables firefighters to safely access, cool and extinguish a fire more efficiently.
|The PyroLance nozzle, which is startlingly shaped like a rifle, uses high-pressure water paired with a granite abrasive to break through such materials as brick, concrete, aluminum and plywood, and access the fire.
Photos courtesy pyrolance
The nozzle, which is startlingly shaped like a rifle, uses high-pressure water paired with a granite abrasive to break through various materials, such as brick, concrete, aluminum and plywood, and access the fire.
Tim Lewellyn, a career firefighter for the Allegheny County Airport Authority in Pittsburgh, Penn., and a columnist for Canadian Firefighter and EMS Quarterly, had heard of the PyroLance, though he’s only seen it used in videos. He says anything that can improve firefighter safety is certainly worth investigating.
“If you have the capability of applying an extinguishing agent without putting a firefighter in that hazardous environment,” he says, “that’s worth looking into.”
He especially sees a benefit to a tool like this in more industrial settings – for container fires, in the transportation industry, in industrial areas and at airports. However, in typical residential structure fires, windows are readily available for a similar type of operation – making an opening and fighting the fire without entering the structure.
The PyroLance also uses the high pressure to break the water into small micro-droplets, which the company says can cool and extinguish the fire faster and more effectively than traditional hoses.
As Bill Ballantyne, president of PyroLance, explains, the high pressure of the tool breaks the water droplets into a fine mist, which offers more surface area, resulting in a more efficient fire knockdown.
“Now, instead of measuring 900 microns in diameter, the droplets measure maybe 90 or 100 microns in diameter,” Ballantyne says.
“They go through the atmosphere and hit the burning gas, and about 90 per cent of the droplets are absorbed.”
The result is less water needed for the operation and less damage from runoff. The abrasive, meanwhile, enables the high-pressure water to penetrate nearly any material, Ballantyne says.
Like Llewellyn, Ballantyne says the tool has exceptional applications in industrial settings.
“The abrasive and the high-pressure water allow the nozzle to penetrate the material,” Ballantyne says.
“It allows a firefighter to stand on the outside of a barrier – a shipping container, an aircraft, a warehouse – and the firefighter can pierce through that barrier in a matter
“Now we’re not sending a firefighter inside, where they’re exposed to heat and flashover and the dangers of modern construction.”
That’s really the best part of the tool – its ability to keep firefighters out of harm’s way, while still enabling them to do the job.
“Anything that would enable you to put out the fire while keeping the firefighter safe,” Llewellyn says, “I don’t see a con to that.”
For more information on the PyroLance, visit www.pyrolance.com .