This month, Vallfirest is presenting the Tactical Unit, a multifunctional module designed to face any type of emergency in a Wildland fire. To understand the possibilities and the vision behind this product, we had a chart with its creator, Javier Baena, the CEO of the company.
vft: Why did you feel the need to create this product, why now?
J.B.: Wildland fires are evolving. They are fueled by the climate crisis and they are becoming faster, more unpredictable and more devastating, posing a threat to mankind in general and emergency bodies in particular.
vft: Wildfires have achieved a whole new level in terms of intensity and speed. What about the emergency response?
J.B.: In recent years we have seen a whole new dimension of pyro phenomena, unprecedented dry periods in northern countries, wildfires capable of creating their own weather, destroying the natural balance of the ecosystems. We are playing a whole different game, where perturbations no longer can be faced increasing resources, because often they are simply out of extinguishing capabilities (a direct attack with a water line is considered non-feasible from the ground when the flame height is more than 3 meters; being 5 meters the maximum height that aerial assets can fight).
The emergency systems require new strategies, new tactics and new equipment’s and tools to avoid the collapse.
vft: How can they do so?
J.B.: Being able to respond to extreme situations guaranteeing the safety of first responders means ensuring crews know how to work with the LACES system (Lookout, Anchor point, Communication, Escape routes and Safety zone), but also, means more strategic deployments and advanced maneuvers.
The emergency systems in countries with a historical background of great wildfires know that anticipation is key to win the fire battle. Using technology to forecast ignitions, model and monitor the advance of fronts when they occur, having the knowledge to read and analyze fire behavior, will tell us when and where we will have an open window (a time frame in which weather conditions allow us to enter the fire line). But without the right tools, we won’t be able to respond as fast and as forcefully as this kind of new emergencies requires. That is why I conceived the Tactical Unit, a multifunctional module designed to face any type of emergency in a Wildland fire.
vft: What is the vision behind the product?
J.B.: The Tactical Unit is an unprecedented revolutionary asset. It is a fire truck with a box of tools and an unbeatable off-road performance. This means remote areas will no longer be a problem. But far more than that, this module can be used to implement a number of attack strategies adapted to the various scenarios that can occur in a wildland operation, as it can transport the Dronster emergency robot, an helitportable defense system Heliskid, portable fire pumps, firefighting tools, PPE, self-protection equipment and firefighting accessories.
vft: Can you give us an exemple of a real operation in which the Tactical Unit could have made the difference?
J.B.: In the last month of December, in the Órgiva wildfire (Andalucía) the wind speed didn’t allow an intervention with aerial forces. The perimeter increased considerably in a matter of hours. In this kind of scenarios, where wind shifts or any unattended change on fire behavior can compromise or extend an operation, having a fire truck able to reach remote areas, deploy an Heliskid to extend a water line in one flank and deploy a Dronster, hand tools and drip torches to dig defense lines mechanically while using technical fire, simultaneously on another flank, can be decisive. We are giving an opportunity for operational crews to anticipate and work both safely and effectively using which ever tool seems more appropriate every step on the way. It is a logistic platform to work combining advanced maneuvers to multiply the potential of the extinguishing systems.
vft: It is a step forward on strategy and tactical operations.
J.B.: Exactly, and it contributes on safety, as it can carry several self-protection kits with Xtreme Shelter fire shelters, emergency respiratory equipment, fireproof blankets and self-protection nozzles.
vft: Is it specifically made to work on wildfires?
J.B.: Yes, but it can be useful also in snowfalls, floods and other emergencies. It is a custom manufactured module with a wide range of options and configurations to meet all kinds of operational needs. And it is adaptable to most light trucks available on the market.
vft: Has it been fully conceived by Vallfirest?
J.B.: Yes, but as we always do, it has been developed in collaboration with professional firefighters from all over the world. This is one of the things that makes us different from other manufacturers: we do a constant follow up on the news, we analyze internally what is happening on the ground, we ask and actively listen to firefighters, we let them test our products before releasing them, we improve them implementing their suggestions and we never end our creations, because we want to ensure they adapt to the real needs. We are at the service of first responders.