Singapore Civil Defence Force (SCDF) unveiled their two new next generation applications at their annual workplan seminar on Wednesday (18 April).
SCDF Commissioner Eric Yap said that the vehicles have been thoughtfully-designed to enable our emergency response specialists to perform their tasks better.
There are two kinds of vehicles. The first one is HazMat Control Vehicle (HCV), which has just received a major facelift with enhancements to its onsite detection, monitoring and chemical analysis capabilities.
It is said that on top of the new HazMat vehicle, the small cylindrical chemical detector was placed, which will allow the HazMat Emergency Assessment and Response Team (HEART) to detect and monitor chemical release from up to 5km away.
Senior assistant director of SCDF’s HazMat Department Ryan Ong said that, previously, all chemical detections had to be done at point source, meaning the detector must come into contact with the chemical before being identified.
Lieutenant-Colonel (LTC) Ong also said that this new feature will allow the team to identify chemical hazards more efficiently, while ensuring their safety.
The new vehicle can also accommodate up to three HEART officers and is fitted with a launchpad for drones. Officers can use it to deploy drones, attached with chemical detectors weighing up to 5kg.
The drones will enable the officers to measure not only the geographical spread of contamination over a long distance with a flight time of up to 20 minutes, but also the height of the spread.
Currently, the point-source detectors allow officers only to measure the chemical spread on the ground.
LTC Ong said, "But if we deploy the drone, we can know (for example), up to which level certain buildings are being affected."
The SCDF said that given that toxic plumes can quickly spread across a wide area, early detection of the plume movement is crucial for effective mitigation of the incident.
However, the authority declined to reveal the frequency of HazMat incidences in Singapore.
Recently, an incident took place at a Jurong food factory in January this year, where four people was taken to hospital.
The HEART team will have three vehicles in its fleet by the end of the year. The last time the HazMat vehicle was upgraded was in 2015.
The other one is the all-new Disaster Assistance and Rescue Team (DART) vehicle, which integrating the existing Special Rescue Tender and Heavy Rescue Tender into a single platform with a slew of latest state-of-the art equipment, including robots.
It was also enhanced to allow DART officers to respond more efficiently to rescue incidents on land, high buildings and in water.
the new DART Rescue Vehicle (DRV) is almost 10m in length and 9.5 tonnes in weight. It now has more room in the personnel cabin to allow DART officers to change into various protective equipment en route to the incidents.
There is also a mini projector inside the personnel cabin, allowing DART commanders to conduct operational briefings while on the move.
DART Platoon Commander Kelvin Koh said, "Commanders can use google maps (to locate the scene of the incident) and beam it onto the projector, and their guys will be able to know the kind of terrain they will deployed to and get real-time updates."
The DRV can now accommodate up to eight officers and is also fitted with side compartments to store equipment which are frequently used, such as ropes, hydraulic rescue tools and rescue nets.
The DRV also has a crane which is able to take up to 7.9 tonnes in weight, compared to 6 tonnes previously. It is primarily used to load other rescue vehicles like the DART skid loader, which is used to access confined spaces in collapsed buildings, for example.
The SCDF plans to have three DRVs by the end of this year, located at the SCDF Headquarters in Ubi.
"The enhancements on the DRV will reduce the time officers take to start work, allowing officers to start work upon arrival, instead of reaching the location and (only then) start preparing to start work," Captain Koh said.