Hovercrafts - the exotics at the fire department
They don't have wheels and are not cars, they have propellers but are not airplanes either. Nor are they ships. And yet they can be indispensable as rescue vehicles in special emergency situations: Hovercraft hovercraft. For most fire departments, they are considered exotic. But for a few, just like the DLRG and THW, they are part of the vehicle fleet.7 Jun 2022
Auro Hovercraft, a company based in Lusatia, Germany, will be demonstrating such a vehicle at INTERSCHUTZ and explaining its many uses.
For Managing Director Andreas Uebel, there is no doubt that such a hovercraft can be indispensable for rescue operations in an emergency. As early as 2013, he himself was on the road with such an emergency vehicle during the Elbe floods in Saxony and recognized the advantages: "It can even be used where no other vehicle can reach." The hovercraft can help not only with floods, but also with icy lakes, for example. The fire department in Steinhude, Lower Saxony, for example, has had good experience with a hovercraft.
It uses it during the winter months for rescuing people and providing technical assistance on the frozen Steinhuder Meer. "It is particularly suitable for use on the ice, as a cushion of air forms under the fuselage, allowing you to float over the ice," the fire department explains on its website. Technically, the operation works like this: The vehicle has two engines, a lift engine and a thrust engine. The hoist motor provides the air cushion under the hovercraft, and the thrust motor provides the necessary propulsion.
"When the Steinhuder Meer is frozen over in winter, there are a lot of ice sailors out on the sea, but of course there are also skaters who have to be rescued if they break bones or break into the ice," the Lower Saxony State Office for Fire and Disaster Protection quotes local fire chief Ralph Nellessen as saying. His colleague Reimond Kamrath from Waren an der Müritz in Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is also very satisfied. There, the hovercraft has proven its worth in dozens of operations in Germany's largest contiguous lake area, where other means of intervention were no longer able to help.
But the hovercraft technology does not only help on waters in the north. The fire department in Burghausen, Bavaria, on the border with Austria, also reports good experiences. Here, according to the fire department, the Salzach River can only be navigated to a limited extent with conventional boat drives because of its many shoals and sandbanks. "The hovercraft is also not tied to any fixed deployment point and can go from the transport trailer directly, or over land, into the water," the Burghausen officials said. Back to the north: Here, emergency forces have been able to use hovercrafts to save many a mudflat walker from drowning who would not have reached the shore as the tide was approaching. For example in Sankt Peter-Ording.
All hovercraft users agree on the special feeling of being suspended: "It's an interesting experience - and very different from boating, for example. In training, this is always something very special for the emergency forces," says Warens Wehrführer Kamrath.
Hall 27, Booth B46
At INTERSCHUTZ, the Auro Hovercraft managing director will of course not be able to arrange test rides with the hovercraft on display. "However, anyone who is interested is welcome to arrange a test date with us at our test site in Lusatia," promises Andreas Uebel. "We would be delighted if we could convince as many as possible of the high utility of the vehicles. At the same time, we also look forward to receiving as many suggestions as possible from potential users for the planning and design of our vehicles."
Fire department Waren/Germany, 2015
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