Fire Engine

These fire engines are all ‘Russian’ around.

  • A fire engine is an automobile dispatched and used by an emergency department, in particular the fire brigade, primarily to put out fires.
  • ‘Fire engines’ are also known as ‘fire trucks’, ‘fire wagons’, ‘fire apparatuses’ and ‘fire appliances’.
  • Fire engines are typically used to transfer fire fighters and their equipment – ladders, hoses, first-aid supplies, rescue equipment and breathing tanks among other things – from the station to the emergency site.
  • Flashing lights and loud sirens are generally found on a fire engine, and these help to make its presence known, so that other vehicles move out of its way during an emergency.
  • Long extendable ladders are generally found on fire engines, to provide a fire fighter with extra height, and they often have hoses attached.
Fire Engine, Truck, Vehicle, Red, America, Cambridge, Dormant, Emergency, Invention, AutomobileFire Engine
Image courtesy of Dave Conner/Flickr
  • Most fire engines are trucks designed for urban use, however some apparatuses are designed specifically for marine, rural and airport purposes.
  • Fire engines generally carry from around 1000 to 3785 litres (264 to 1000 gallons) of water, although some hold less, while others hold more; however the majority of water that urban trucks use is sourced from a hydrant.
  • A fire engine can be expensive to produce, with commercial pricing ranging from $350,000 to $1.5 million or more, depending on the purposes and features.
  • Greek inventor Ctesibius is said to have invented one of the earliest forms of a fire engine in the third century BC, though buckets of water were commonly used to fight fires in the middle ages; and from the 1600s, fire trucks of various kinds were invented, and by the 1800s, a pressure steam pump had been invented and was drawn by horses for fire use.
  • Fire engines are commonly coloured red, and this is generally attributed to the colour’s bright nature, which makes the truck stand out among other vehicles.
Bibliography:
Bett D, Fire Engine, 1996, Encyclopedia.com, http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Fire_Engine.aspx
Fire Engine, 2016, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_engine
Fire Truck History, n.d, Auto Evolution, http://www.autoevolution.com/news/fire-truck-history-7249.html
Revermann S, Fun Facts for Kids about Fire Trucks, 2016, Modern Mom, http://motherhood.modernmom.com/fun-kids-fire-trucks-16855.html
Why Are Fire Trucks Red?, 2016, Wonderopolis, http://wonderopolis.org/wonder/why-are-fire-trucks-red
Young C, Fires, Fire Engines, and Fire Brigades, 1866, Google Books, https://books.google.com.au/books?id=YblbAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA66&lpg=PA66&dq=ptolemy+fire+engine&source=bl&ots=QruKyXMSvl&sig=jr4fVFH4rjn_Ltgt2IKqipPeo3E&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjk8oazi9nLAhXjtIMKHS4DBY8Q6AEIODAI#v=onepage&q&f=false

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Smoke Detector

Have you checked your smoke detector for working batteries recently?

  • Smoke detectors are an invention used to detect smoke, and particularly to warn of the danger of a fire, and in 2013, approximately 93% of households in the United States had the device in their home.
  • There are three main types of smoke detectors used to sense fire dangers, including those that use photoelectric or optical sensing; ionisation which uses radioactive elements; and air sampling known as ‘aspirating’ detectors or ASD.
  • Smoke detectors sometimes have a mix of two types of sensors – photoelectric and ionisation – as different sensors perform better during different stages of a fire, with the former being best during smouldering stages, and the latter during flaming stages.
  • Smoke detectors are often installed in both commercial and domestic buildings; and they are usually found in the centre of a ceiling, in hallways, on each building level, as well as in or near sleeping quarters.
  • Approximately 30% of smoke detectors in households will fail to function during an actual fire danger, primarily due to the detector malfunctioning because of age, battery removals and dead batteries.

Smoke Detector, On, Green, Fire Alarm, Trivia, Random Facts, Ten, White, Ceiling, Domestic, House

  • The size of a common disc-shaped smoke detector is usually around 15 centimetres (6 inches) in diameter and 2.5 centimetres (1 inch) deep, and they are generally encased in a plastic, cylindrical cover.
  • Americans Francis Upton, an acquaintance of Thomas Edison, and Fernando Dibble are widely recognised as the inventors of the first portable electric fire alarm, an early smoke detector which was patented in 1890, although other fire alarms were in existence at the time.
  • A heat-based detector was invented in 1902 by George Andrew Darby from England, while the birth of the ionised smoke detector occurred during the 1930s, and was accidentally discovered by Walter Jaeger, from Switzerland, after his unsuccessful gas detector reacted to cigarette smoke.
  • After decades of development, domestic smoke detectors became more readily available and more affordable in the 1970s, while a number of countries now have laws that require the device in all public buildings and private dwellings.
  • Smoke detectors primarily alert through noise, often around 85 decibels with a piercing alarm sound, although voice, lights, and futuristic ideas like vibrations can also be utilised.
Bibliography:
Types of Smoke Alarms, 2015, Department of Fire & Emergency Services, http://www.dfes.wa.gov.au/safetyinformation/fire/fireinthehome/Pages/typesofsmokealarms.aspx
Smoke Detector, 2015, Wikipedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smoke_detector

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Black Box Flight Recorder

Black box flight recorders are a great help for determining the cause of an accident.

  • Black box flight recorders are devices located in aircraft to record data in case of an accident, and are made to survive at least 1000°C (1832°F) and a g-force of 3400.
  • ‘Black box flight recorders’ are also known as ‘black boxes’ and ‘flight recorders’, usually refers to two separate containers; one a ‘flight data recorder’ or FDR, and the other, a ‘cockpit voice recorder’ or CVD, although sometimes they are held in the same sealed container.
  • It is not known for certain why black box flight recorders are referred to as ‘black boxes’, as they are generally coloured in special bright orange or yellow reflective paint, so that they are more visible in search situations, and they are usually labelled with a warning: ‘FLIGHT RECORDER DO NOT OPEN’ in English and French. 
  • Two of the first innovators of black box flight recorders were François Hussenot and Paul Beaudouin of France, in 1939, and their recorders used a photographic film process.
  • Black box flight recorders have the function of recording aircraft performance, voice and audio signals, and sometimes visual footage, although this is not common.

Black Box Flight Recorder, Orange, Cockpit Voice Recorder, CVD, DO NOT OPEN, Two, Ten Random Facts, Flickr

CVD Flight Recorder
Image courtesy of Joe Kunzler/Flickr
  • The first black box flight recorders to include both flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders were invented in the 1950s, in Melbourne by Australian David Warren, a chemist, and a prototype was completed in 1958.
  • Black box flight recorders were originally included in the front of an aircraft, but later placed near the tail, as they are more likely to survive damage in that section of the plane.
  • Black box flight recorders include an underwater locator beacon (ULB) that is automatically activated in water and sends an ultrasonic signal, known as a ‘ping’, that can be transmitted from up to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet) under water, for approximately 30 days – the duration of its battery life.
  • In 1960, black box flight recorders were required to be on all commercial planes in Australia, the first country in the world to have such a law, and these laws now extend to most aircraft in the world that can carry at least 20 passengers.
  • It is suggested that black box flight recorders may become obsolete, as live streaming of information from aircraft via satellites to a base station would provide a much easier means of retrieving the information in a crash situation, and this technology is already used on some aircraft.
Bibliography:
Flight Recorder, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_recorder
What is a Black Box?, 2014, National Geographic Channel, http://natgeotv.com/uk/air-crash-investigation/black-box

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Fire Extinguisher

Fire extinguishers can save lives…

  • Fire extinguishers are emergency items used in the case of a small fire.
  • ‘Fire extinguishers’ are also known as ‘extinguishers’.
  • Fire extinguishers are typically in the form of a cylindrical container that is generally red in colour for high visibility, with squeeze style handles to release the contents.
  • Fire extinguishers contain a fire extinguishing substance and a pressurised agent as the propellant, and can be handheld or on wheels with different extinguishers used for different fire types.
  • Handheld fire extinguishers are typically 0.5 to 14 kilograms (1.1 to 30.9 pounds) in weight.

fire extinguisher, red, white, bottle, handheld, holder, Australian, single, Ten Random Facts, Emergency tool

  • The earliest known and patented fire extinguisher was invented by Ambrose Godfrey, a German chemist, in 1723 in England, and used gunpowder and fuses for expelling the liquid.
  • The first modern style portable fire extinguisher, a copper container filled with potassium carbonate and pressurised air, was invented by George William Manby, a British captain, author and inventor, between 1810 and 1820.
  • Fire extinguishers typically contain substances of  either water, dry chemicals, wet chemicals, foam or carbon dioxide to extinguish fires.
  • Fire extinguishers are typically found in public and commercial buildings, houses, and land water and air vehicles.
  • Fire extinguishers should be periodically checked and maintained, as damage can cause incorrect discharge and ruptures that lead to deaths and explosions.

 

Bibliography:
Fire Extinguishers, 2014, Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fire_extinguisher
History of Fire Extinguishers, 2011, Fire Safety Advice Centre, http://www.firesafe.org.uk/history-of-fire-extinguishers/

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Fire Blanket

Fire alarm goes off – Get the blanket!

  • Fire blankets are sheets of fabric that are made out of the most fire resistant materials.
  • Fire blankets are used to cover a small fire and extinguish it by removing the oxygen, which smothers the fire.
  • Large fire blankets are used in science labs and industries, and special welding blankets are produced.
  • Fire blankets are most commonly used for clothing or cooking fires, and a person can be wrapped and rolled in a fire blanket if their clothing has caught on fire.
  • Typically fire blankets are 1.2 x 1.2 m (3.9 x 3.9 feet), 1.2 x 1.8 m (3.9 x 5.9 feet), or 1.8 x 1.8 m (5.9 x 5.9 feet) in size, and the 1.2 x 1.8 metre fire blanket is large enough to wrap around an adult if their clothes have caught on fire.

Fire Blanket, 1 meter by 1 meter, red, white, packet, old, open, spread, Australia, Ten Random Facts, fire

  • Fire blankets are easy to use,  and generally to use them you pull the tabs, open up the blanket, carefully put it over the fire, turn off the heat source and wait 15 minutes before removing the blanket, as it is likely to be hot and can burn your hands.
  • Fire blankets are normally thrown out after use.
  • Fire blankets are usually made out of woven fibreglass or wool, although some fire blankets have a gel layer, which helps protect a person wrapped in the blanket, and keeps them cool.
  • Fire blankets should be placed away from areas that could catch on fire, such as an oven or stove, and should be easily accessible.
  • If there is a fire, sometimes it is better to use a fire blanket rather than a fire extinguisher, especially for chemically sensitive equipment, although they are not suitable for electrical fires.
Bibliograhpy:
Fire Blanket, 2013, Victorian Fire Protection, <http://www.vfp.com.au/products/fire-extinguisher/fire-blanket.html>

Ambulance

Sirens sound, the ambulance is on the way!

  • Ambulances are transportation for sick or hurt people, and are often used as an emergency vehicle.
  • Most ambulances are specially modified and fitted out vans packed with medical equipment, and have prominent colours and designs on the exterior to gain maximum attention.
  • In an emergency, ambulances use loud sirens and coloured, flashing lights to warn people to get out of the way.
  • Ambulances can be in the form of a car, train, truck, van, bicycle, trailer, motorbike, cart, bus, helicopter, wing aircraft, boat, and hospital ships.
  • The word ‘ambulance’ comes from the Latin word ‘ambulare’, which means walk or move about.

Emergency Ambulance truck, Ten Random Facts, Free Stock Photos

Ambulance
Image courtesy of Free Stock Photos
  • The first ambulances were carts and used in 1487, by the Spanish.
  • There are normally two ambulance officers, paramedics, that travel in an ambulance.  One drives the vehicle and the other attends to the sick person whilst in transit.
  • Ambulances are more likely to be involved in a car crash than fire trucks and police cars.
  • As well as containing equipment to treat patients, ambulances are also normally equipped with two-way radios, mobile data terminals, video cameras, tail lifts or ramps, trauma lighting, air conditioning and data recorders.
  • In an emergency, ambulances may be allowed to use a red traffic light or stop sign as a ‘give way’ sign and/or be allowed to break the speed limit.
Bibliography:
Ambulance 26 October 2012, Wikipedia, <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ambulance>
Graham, I 2006, Emergency!, QED Publishing, United Kingdom

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