Space & Innovation

Firefighters in Dubai Tackle Flames Using Water-Propelled Jetpacks

A new initiative called Dolphin has a futuristic way for responders to put out fires aboard ships or on the shore.

What happens when a fire breaks out on a busy bridge near the shoreline? You send a firefighter over on a jet ski and then strap him to a jetpack-like hose containing a pump that lifts him right over the flames to extinguish them, of course.

A water-powered system to achieve this was recently demonstrated by emergency responders in Dubai as part of a new initiative appropriately called Dolphin. The YouTube video posted by the city's emergency response unit, Dubai Civil Defence, describes the system in Arabic as a futuristic way to shorten the time to respond to fires aboard ships or on the shore.

The Saudi Arabian newspaper Slaati quoted Rashid Thani Al Matrooshi, director general of Dubai Civil Defence, as saying that they chose the name Dolphin due to how fast the system allows firefighters to move, the ease of communication, and because it becomes a friend to people in a crisis.

Dubai's Al Bayan newspaper reported that the jetpack uses a constant, renewable supply of seawater to fight fires, and provides an incredible flow of 9,000 gallons in four minutes. The system can send a firefighter nearly 10 feet above the water, according to the Egyptian news site Masrawy.

Back in 2015, Dubai officials signed a deal with the New Zealand-based company Martin Jetpack to purchase 20 jetpacks and two simulators for fighting high-rise fires. However, as New Atlas noted, it's unclear what happened with that arrangement.

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Recently I expressed skepticism about jetpack travel for the masses, but I'm much more optimistic about using the tech for firefighting, search and rescue, and emergency response. As Dubai Civil Defence pointed out on YouTube, getting to fires faster means potentially saving more lives.

The Dolphin jetpack isn't meant to replace firetrucks or firefighting vessels, and it won't be ideal for every situation. However, it could be speedier than a truck when traffic is bad along the shore. And, at least from what the demo showed, a water-propelled jetpack sure does make firefighters seem cooler. If that's even possible.