China's first fire-fighting tank has made its debut in an exercise in Baotou, an industrial city in north China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.
The tank, using a combat tank chassis, is equipped with steel armor and a heat-proof layer to protect the crew from explosions and heat, allowing it to operate very near to a blaze.
The tank's electronically-controlled water gun can hose water or fire an extinguishing agent to a maximum range of 70 meters (230 feet).
Its powerful engine and hydraulic obstacle-moving gear allow it to easily crush and remove any obstacle in order to operate in the best position, reports said.
The tank is operated by three crew members: a driver, a water gun operator and a commander who is also in charge of communications.
A sprinkler system is attached to its wheels to cool the tank body, while devices inside the tank can detect 16 kinds of flammable or poisonous gases, and warn the crew when the gas content exceeds 10 percent.
The tank was jointly developed by the fire fighting brigade of Inner Mongolia, the Inner Mongolia Century Fire Fighting Technology Corporation and the Inner Mongolia No.1 Machinery Group.
Guan Yuming, general manager of Century Fire Fighting, claimed the tank was the world's first fire-fighting tank for use in urban sites, though Germany had developed a tank for forest fire-fighting.
The tank's caterpillar tracks were wrapped in fire-proof rubber pads, so that it would not damage roads, he said.
Guan said they decided to develop the tank after an oil tank fire in neighboring Liaoning Province in September 2001.
The oil tanks were behind high walls, but the extreme heat prevented firemen getting close enough to project extinguishing agents directly on the tanks, Guan said.
The fire-fighting tank was awaiting the tests and certification from national authorities before it could be put into actual production, he added.
(Xinhua News Agency August 3, 2002)