Being a firefighter means putting your life on the line. To battle infernos and rescue civilians, you must recognize the dangers and consequences. You’re risking your life to help others…but what if there was a safer method of putting out flames?
Meet Thermite RS1-T3: the firefighting robot. Created by Howe and Howe Technologies in Maine, T3 is one of two Thermite bots designed to assist firefighters. With the ability to expel 1,250 gallons of water per minute, it’s designed primarily to act as an additional hose. But due to the nature of being a robot, T3 can combat the center of the fire while keeping the humans outside of the direct line of fire (no pun intended). The more vulnerable humans contain the blaze from the exterior, while T3 attacks the heart of the problem.
Admittedly, T3 is more of an assistant to firefighters than an outright replacement. This is even reiterated on the Thermite website: “Thermite is not intended to replace firefighters in any way. Instead, this remarkable firefighting robot is an advanced tool developed to assist first responders in safely and effectively combating industrial and HAZMAT fires.” Still, the technology does keep humans safe in some situations and could prevent the loss of life.
When the website calls T3 “remarkable,” it’s more than just embellishment. The specifications are commendable. The treads are industrial grade and can ascend slopes up to a 70% grade. It offers both remote and tethered controls, powered by a 25-horsepower air-cooled diesel engine. The 5,000-pound winch can tow up to 1,750 pounds, making rescue and recovery easier. A built-in LCD monitor allows for a live feed to view inside of the inferno. Naturally, T3 is also fully heat shielded and can be operated for up to 10 hours. Best of all, if you’re not fond of the yellow, there are alternate colors.
T3’s sister, the Thermite RS2-T2 is even more powerful. While the T3’s maximum GPM is the aforementioned 1,250, that same number is T2’s minimum. To compensate for the additional pressure, it can be ordered with a thirty-horsepower diesel engine or all-electric 32-horsepower high torque drives. Otherwise, the stats are similar between the two models, with only clearance and chassis size differing greatly.
Howe and Howe have more than just the pair of firefighting robots, however. They’ve also created their very own firetruck. The Bulldog 4×4 can work both on-roads and off and has various features that allow it to combat fires and nature. Quick release mud flaps, chemical barrel holders, tow points, and even back-up cameras make it a complete package. Of course, you can also customize it to be able to carry your Thermite robot. Maxim magazine calls it “the world’s most badass fire truck,” and fire departments who have used it have given positive reviews as well.
It should be noted that T3 is the third version of the Thermite robot. The original bot, while impressive, was much larger and cumbersome than its current counterpart. As technology advanced, Thermite shrunk in size but packed in more firefighting power. It also lessened the burden on potential buyers, with the cost dropping from $195k USD to $96k USD.
Aspiring to one day be a firefighter is commendable but is not a choice to be made lightly. It’s dangerous and frequently deadly, as most first responder positions are. Still, the idea might be less worrying to some knowing that robots like Thermite are there to assist you. They can take the heat with impunity and come out unscathed, just as we all imagined firefighters to be as children. No matter what, any way we can make saving lives safer is something worth working on.