Experiments with Fire Bikes – Do they work?

Credit Wikipedia

Here’s something you may not have heard of before – fire bikes.

As strange as it sounds, some fire departments around the world utilize motorcycles in the fire department for various reasons, some even being equipped with firefighting gear, including fire extinguishers, water jets, and first aid materials.

The purpose of bikes owned and operated by fire departments are different in just about every case. Some of the ways they are used is:

  • To fight fires – Some bikes are actually equipped with small fire fighting equipment like foam, hoses, water jets, or fire extinguishers. They can be used to start fighting a fire, or to put out a very small fire.
  • To get to the fire faster – During times of congestion, a motorcycle will get to a distress call faster than a huge fire truck. They can assess the situation and start helping those people who need help and letting the fire engine know what to expect when they arrive.
  • Safety awareness campaigns – Many forces use their motorcycles to run safety awareness campaigns to ensure people are riding properly, wearing the right helmet, and obeying the laws. These are usually done in conjunction with the police department, and can be week-long events, month-long events, ongoing campaigns, or done in parades.

Who uses fire bikes?

There are a number of departments around the world that use these bikes to assist in their fire fighting and rescue jobs.

  • Here are examples of countries that use them:
  • Brazil
  • Brunei
  • Denmark
  • Hong Kong
  • Iran
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Singapore
  • Sweden
  • UK (Around Liverpool, they have been tested fairly extensively for various purposes, and the area serves as an experiment that may be replicated across the country)
  • US (Did you know that LA did a trial run in 2012 with fire bikes to help cut down response time during congestion?)

Now, it’s typical for these places to literally only have a couple of fire bikes, so they’re really not extensively used, but as you can see, there is a wide variety of places that use them.

That’s why it’s hard to tell how well they work. The Merseyside experiment (Liverpool, UK), has been ongoing for a number of years now, and it is as if they have not yet reached a conclusion. They have used the bikes for just about all of the things we outlined above that the motorcycles can be used for, but so far there hasn’t been much uptake in the rest of the country.

Nothing seems to have come from the LA experiment, either.

So, while the idea is certainly interesting, it is fair to say that motorcycles are not well-equipped to be in the business of fighting fires, even if it is just for rapid response. Once the rider arrives, there is very little they can do, and it is likely a very stressful situation as they may be witnessing a burning building and can do absolutely nothing to start putting it out.

Finally, let’s remember that no matter what we are doing in regards to bike riding, we always must be vigilant, utilize the proper safety gear, get the best motorcycle helmet you can find, and assume defensive driving tactics, because the car will always come away with less damage than you, even if it’s not your fault.