Adaptable specialists in Hong Kong: two rail firetrucks for very special tasks

It is the largest underground rail station in the world, currently being built in Hong Kong. It is the start and end point of the high-speed section to Guangzhou. Trains travel at up to 350 km/h (217 mph), often in tunnels that are miles long. These challenges demand sophisticated solutions: two specialty firefighting vehicles were developed for this area.

The range of applications of both vehicle firefighting specialties are really not short of superlatives. The 26 km section in Hong Kong's special economic zone runs completely underground. Only when it reaches the Chinese mainland does the train line emerge on the surface again. When the trains leave the largest underground station in the world, shortly afterwards they reach speeds of up to 350 km/h. The new track also holds many new challenges for the security forces of the Hong Kong Fire Service Department. Their response to this situation was the acquisition of two railway trucks (RLF 3000/100/100 rail).

On wheels or on rails?

The peculiarity of the specialty vehicles is the rail travel device. Thanks to the sophisticated technology, the vehicle can be quickly converted from road to rail. Thus, it is also possible to rapidly get close to a possible accident site that would not be reachable by road. Since taking delivery of both vehicles, special training has been on the agenda for the emergency crews in Hong Kong. The focus is on railing and de-railing, and naturally driving on the rails. Even on rails, the specialty firefighting vehicles reach speeds of up to 60 km/h (37 mph). Not just that steering is not possible on rails, but also the braking and acceleration behavior is completely different than on the road. The special training should be completed by the time the high-speed rail section is ready.

Huge smoke and heat build-up in tunnels

However, not just driving on rails is a special challenge. Since the section in the operational area of the Hong Kong Fire Service Department runs exclusively underground, the scenario of a tunnel fire plays a prominent role. The equipment of the vehicles take this situation with huge build-ups of smoke and heat into account: On both sides of the vehicle, two FANERGY E21 tunnel fans can be continuously swiveled out. This allows not just the tunnel to be ventilated and made smoke-free in a short time, but a cooling fog is also discharged.
For firefighting operations, both vehicles are of course equipped with corresponding firefighting equipment. The combined normal and high pressure pump NH 55 can also be activated during while driving. So you can start extinguishing with the RM15C bumper turret while on the move. The rapid intervention hose reels can also be used for extinguishing – with both normal and high pressure. A 3,000 l water tank and two foam compound agent tanks which each hold 100 l ensure the supply of extinguishing agents.

Extensive special equipment

Both railway trucks are furnished with corresponding lighting for rail operation. Reversing and front section cameras greatly simplify driving on the rails. In addition, both vehicles are fitted with infrared thermal imaging cameras (front and rear) as well as a gas-detecting device.
The operating area of both fire fighting vehicles is very varied and brings many challenges with it. With both these specialty vehicles, the fire department is well equipped for such difficult operations.