Amatoya: Futuristic Firefighting Vehicle
Most of us grew up with fire trucks that were big, red, and noisy, designed to carry as much water, supplies and men as possible to the scene of a blaze while clearing a path along crowded city streets or twisting rural roads. The future of firefighting equipment, however, might look quite different if Liam Ferguson has his way. The designer has put together an entirely new type of firefighting vehicle called the Amatoya that is more adaptable to a wider range of situations than traditional truck-based apparatus.
The inspiration for the Amatoya came from the “Black Saturday” wild fires that swept across Victoria, Australia in 2009. Ferguson witnessed the ineffectiveness of traditional firefighting strategies in that situation, such as the use of large tanker trucks in an attempt to contain the blaze augmented by smaller commercial vehicles which had been adapted to a firefighting role and which were used to scout out the fire in progress. He realized that the development of a specialized vehicle that could combine the mobility of a scout truck with the water delivery of a larger tanker would be a huge boon to firefighters facing this type of crisis.
The Amatoya looks like something out of a sci-fi epic. Its purpose-built chassis is entirely dedicated to supporting its firefighting features and protecting its two-man crew, giving it a bustling, semi-military appearance that favors function over form. The Amatoya is designed to provide exceptional site reconnaissance capabilities, which is a vital part of determining where a bush fire will be heading next. Its off-road ready suspension system can also make short work of almost any terrain, which gives it the mobility required to keep its operators out of harm’s way while gathering important data about a fire.
Speed is but one of the tricks in the Amatoya’s arsenal when it comes to protecting its passengers in dangerous situations. The vehicle uses aerogel laminated insulation on all of its surfaces – even the windows, as it is transparent – which significantly reduces temperatures inside the cockpit. An auxiliary water supply sprays down the exterior of the Amatoya when needed, and special paints which are designed to absorb heat also deflect dangerous temperatures away from the firefighter’s running gear. Even the direct-injection diesel engine is specially built to withstand extreme heat. These design features are light years ahead of what can be retro-fitted onto an existing truck chassis.
An even more important difference between the Amatoya and current scout trucks is that the vehicle is also capable of playing an important fire suppression role that current “Quick Attack” or reconnaissance vehicles just can’t match. The Amatoya dwarfs the paltry water-carrying capacities of 4×4-based scout trucks with a 475-gallon main water tank complemented by a 105-gallon backup tank. The tanks themselves are strategically placed throughout the vehicle’s platform so as to minimize the destabilizing effects of sloshing liquid while at speed. This water is fed through what Ferguson terms a “Remotely Operated Suppression Cannon Outfit” (ROSCO), which is operated from within the Amatoya by the vehicle’s second crew member without the need to exit the vehicle. Not only does this automated water cannon reduce the number of firefighters typically required to man a reconnaissance vehicle from six to two, but it also means that the Amatoya can stay on the move if necessary while still serving in a fire suppression role.
The Amatoya clearly represents an entirely new outlook on firefighting, and one which will require not just strategic re-evaluation of fire suppression techniques but also pose questions about budgeting and the affordability of this type of advanced technology for municipalities and governments facing very real bush fire threats. The Amatoya has been submitted by Ferguson to the James Dyson Awards, which is designed to promote worldwide engineering advances with cash prizes and recognition throughout the design community. Should the Amatoya win or place in this competition, it could go a long way towards helping to usher in a new era in wildfire fighting around the world.
Pretty cool, eh?
Filed Under: Auto News