Some Things are better off without an App
Pierre Wasgien is a lucky man. As head of sales at Rössle AG, a German manufacturer of suction cleaners for the fire service, he has a job that allows him to indulge his lifelong passion for the fire and technical rescue services. His keen personal interest has given hi deep insight into what firefighters and technical rescuers do and need on the job – a major asset when it comes to talking with potential customers and fine-tuning the company’s suction cleaner technology.18 Nov 2019
How did you personally become interested in the fire protection and rescue sectors? What is it about them that fascinates you?
I’ve always been quite technically minded, and I’ve always sought an outlet for my technical interests. So, 30 years ago when I became involved with the Agency for Technical Relief (THW), it was a match made in heaven, and my passion for the technical rescue, fire service and emergency management sectors has grown ever since.
The fire service and THW technical rescue service are closely related, and there are many parallels between the two. My personal interest in these sectors has been a boon to me professionally, as I have worked for several fire-sector manufacturers over the years, and my personal knowledge and experience have been a big advantage.
You have worked for providers of firefighting systems and equipment in various places around the world. Are there any differences from country to country?
Yes, quite a few. For example, I worked in Canada for several years. And there, everything is a bit bigger because it is a different sort of environment. Here in Germany, our cities are much smaller, our streets are narrower and the buildings are not as tall. Consequently our firefighting vehicles and products are very different.
The other thing is that firefighters have a completely different social status in North American than they do here in Europe or, for that matter, the Middle East.
The products you sell – fire service suction cleaners – were not originally designed for fire service use. What exactly is Rössle AG’s background?
Rössle AG is a traditional firm with a history going back several generations. We first started out making lime burners. From there we transitioned to modern production facilities for hollow bricks made of concrete, pumice and liapor. The concrete factory gradually morphed into the current natural stone wholesale business, which has been servicing the landscaping and garden supplies sector in the Allgäu region for over 20 years.
So when did suction cleaning systems enter the mix?
Ten years ago, Rössle AG added a new line of business – pond cleaning technology – and it has been a major success. Our pond cleaning division develops and manufactures sludge and water suction cleaners and associated accessories, such as electric scrubbers, for cleaning ornamental and swimming ponds. Thanks to our commitment to continuous innovation, we have become a market-leading provider of pond-cleaning equipment in Europe.
How did you optimize your suction cleaner for the fire sector? What do fire brigades need in a suction cleaner?
Firefighters need quality electrical equipment that they can trust to do the job when large areas are affected by torrential rain and flooding. So we developed our HYDRA series sludge suction cleaners.
They have proven their worth for firefighters because they are electronics-free by design and hence reliable and ready for action at any time. And thanks to my background and experience, I was able to play a role in the project. Today, these suction cleaners have an array of small but ingenious and extremely well thought-out enhancements that deliver key benefits to firefighters – in terms of space and weight-savings, for example.
You said the cleaners were "electronics-free by design". Why is that?
Electronic control circuits are susceptible to moisture damage, so you won’t find any in our HYDRA products. What firefighters need in a suction cleaner, more than anything else, is compact and rugged design. We conducted extensive testing to ensure maximum durability and longevity. The design process ran in parallel with this, to ensure maximum ease of use.
But it is rarely just water that needs to be pumped. How dirty can the water be before your cleaners are not an option?
There are actually very few situations in which our suction cleaners can’t be used. Only last week I heard of a call-out to a flooded basement where wood fuel pellets were being stored. Our suction cleaner was able to pump out the resulting stew of soggy pellets no problem.
What’s more, it did this from a height of two meters because the crew were unable to get the cleaner unit down into the basement. Needless to say, the firefighters were impressed.
We are living in an era of digital transformation. Will your suction cleaners remain electronics-free, or will you soon be bringing out a companion suction cleaner app?
Not everything needs to be digitalized, and some things just shouldn’t be – they should be kept as simple as possible. The bottom line for the fire service is that everything works properly – in every incident situation.
So in that sense it’s actually advantageous to have equipment that is not equipped with the latest electronics. We’ve made a conscious effort to design products that don’t have an app and that don’t require months-long training courses for operators.
So, what exciting new thing will you be bringing to INTERSCHUTZ 2020 if not an app?
Well, obviously I don’t want to give away too much at this stage, except to say that it’s something we’ve already tested – an innovation that will make work a lot easier for firefighters and that can be combined with existing equipment. If you would like to find out more, you are most welcome to visit us at our stand at next year’s INTERSCHUTZ.
About Rössle AG
Rössle AG is a traditional German company that is in its third generation of family ownership. Based in the town of Marktoberdorf in the Allgäu region of southern Bavaria, it has a staff of around 15. The company has authorized dealerships and service centers all around Europe. Further information
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