CHIBA — The country’s first firefighting robot system has been deployed to the Ichihara City Fire Department in Ichihara, Chiba Prefecture, home to industrial zones in coastal and other areas. The system will battle blazes in hazardous locations that are difficult for firefighters to reach.
Following the deployment, about 400 people — including relevant officials — attended a ceremony marking the establishment of the unit for the system at the JXTG Nippon Oil & Energy Corp.’s Chiba refinery. A demonstration of the firefighting robot system took place during the ceremony.
The system is comprised of the following four robotic items: the air surveillance and monitoring robot “sky eye;” the ground robot “land eye;” the hose-deploying robot “tough reeler (which extends hoses);” and the “water cannon” robot.
The unit was named “Scrum Force,” meaning it combines each of the abilities of these robots to take on tasks in a scrum.
The unit was developed after fires occurred at petrochemical complexes in the city in the wake of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake. At that time, firefighters could not reach the fires because of the high temperatures.
To address the issue, the Fire and Disaster Management Agency of the Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry developed the firefighting robot system, spending five years and ¥1.38 billion. It will be stored at the Yawata station, part of the Ichihara City Fire Department.
The Fire and Disaster Management Agency plans to deploy the robot system to fire departments in industrial zones nationwide. It will operate the robot system in Ichihara and consider areas to be improved.
The names of the unit and robot system were announced during the ceremony, and agency head Buichiro Kuroda presented a flag to the unit leader.
Subsequently, the robot demonstrated a series of operations, from site surveillance to water discharge.
“I expected the unit to make use of the system to perform faster and more adequate firefighting operations than in the past,” Kuroda said.