The Los Angeles Fire Department introduced its newest firefighter this week — the Thermite Robot Solution 3 (RS3). The latest addition to LAFD can blast out 2,500 gallons of water per minute, go into high-risk situations, and even rescue a horse in an emergency.
“The Los Angeles Fire Department is the first in our country to acquire this amazing piece of new equipment,” Chief Ralph Terrazas said during a demonstration introducing RS3.
ABC News reports that Terrazas learned of the value of firefighting robots when he saw news coverage of last year’s Notre Dame Cathedral fire. When firefighters had to flee the building as the roof threatened to collapse, a robot named Colossus took up the fight to extinguish the flames.
“It got me thinking about the large fires we have here in Los Angeles,” Terrazas said. “Those fires sometimes cause us to back out our firefighters because we’re concerned about the potential for a building to collapse.”
While RS3 was formally introduced at a public press conference on Tuesday, it was called to action earlier that morning in response to a local fire.
RS3 in Action
The 3,500-pound robot resembles a small tank, complete with a firehose and a front plow blade. RS3 can push up to 8,000 pounds of debris around and its hose has as much spraying power as 16 firefighters on hoses. LAFD can remotely operate RS3 with a controller that provides high-definition feedback from up to a quarter-mile away.
“It can also be used in searching for people in large collapsed buildings, horse rescues, fuel tanker fires on the freeway, fires in refineries, and many others,” said Terrazas, CBS LA reports.
RS3 will be housed at Fire Station 3 in Downtown LA, joining the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. LAFD will deploy the robot using a trailer towed by a pick-up truck, as seen in the video above.
“Instead of putting our people at risk, let’s put technology to work,” Terrazas told NBC News.
LAFD’s full press conference for RS3’s introduction can be seen below. The RS3 demonstration begins at the 11:30 timestamp.