A 24-ton vehicle capable of breaking into burning buildings is among several new pieces of equipment that Qatar’s Civil Defense department has bought to boost its firefighting capabilities.
The purchase was part of some QR102 million ($US28 million) in orders placed by the government during last week’s three-day Civil Defense Expo.
The new QR7 million vehicle from Al Hamad Trading comes equipped with an infrared camera that can be used by firefighters to find people trapped inside a blaze through thick smoke.
A statement from the Ministry of Interior said it is designed to access areas that can’t be reached by emergency responders.
While the specific vehicle wasn’t named, similar pieces of equipment were on display at the trade show, the first to be held at the newly completed Doha Exhibition and Conference Center in Dafna/West Bay.
Croatian firm Dok-Ing brought its armored MVF-5 vehicle, which resembles a red bulldozer affixed with a massive claw, to the expo.
The company says the vehicle’s design is based on equipment used to clear minefields and is intended to battle blazes in environments too hazardous for human firefighters.
The vehicle is equipped with water and foam tanks, and is guided by a remote control that allows the operator to remain a safe distance from the fire.
Other orders included new protective jackets and suits for firefighters.
Fires in Qatar
There were 1,158 fires, or an average of more than three a day in 2013, the most recent year for which statistics are available.
More than half of all fires were in homes or vehicles, according to the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics.
While the number of fires in 2013 was relatively constant with levels recorded in 2012, it was a 41-percent increase on the 819 blazes in 2010.
In terms of fires at factories and other industrial properties, Civil Defense responded to an average of 1.5 fires each month in 2013,
That’s down from an average of more than four per month in 2010.
As in past years, officials did not state a cause for fires in more than 90 percent of the incidents that took place in 2013.
And once again, the leading identified cause of fires was an electrical short circuit.
In addition to fighting blazes, emergency responders including Civil Defense staff are also called upon to rescue people trapped inside buildings.
For example, they responded to a partial collapse of a floor inside the Ramez store on Salwa Road in August. That shop has since reopened and continues to do brisk business.
In 2013, authorities responded to eight such incidents, down from 10 the previous year.