Fire Foam Fun in 1972

Dubai was not cash rich in 1972. Oil money had yet to flow into the economy. Each Emirate still had responsibility for its own public services such as health, security and fire fighting. Later these were unified under the Federal Government who then funded these services. But in 1972 Dubai Municipality was short of money so couldn't afford the modern fire fighting equipment Dubai's Fire Brigade needed. Solution was found - with some fun and foam included!

Fire Fighting in 1971: Fire Engines that couldn't fight fires!

1971: Management of newly opened Port Rashid did not want the cost of operating their own Fire Brigade - fire fighting was not their business. They wanted firefighting "outsourced"! With Dubai but DM's lack of money and Fire Brigade's limited amount of old fashioned equipment was standing in the way. Modern fire fighting equipment was needed- lots of it!

1971: We called Dubai Fire Brigade to a ship fire in Port Rashid. Within minutes, their Fire Engines were set upq then - nothing happened! None of the fire engines started. Firemen stood around while the smoke continued to billow from the burning ship. "What's the problem?" Fire Chief shrugged his shoulders. "Fire Engine Pumps won't work. Been broken down for weeks. No spare parts. I keep asking to buy these spare parts but no one will give permission!"

From Report on Ship Fire. Port Rashid 1971

Eventually Port Rashid and Dubai's Fire Brigade came together -a deal was struck. Port Rashid would buy Fire Fighting Equipment for Dubai's Fire Brigade - Fire Brigade would take responsibility for fighting Port Rashid's fires. Fire Chief listed his fire fighting equipment requirements. It was if a child had listed what heshe wanted from the Toy Shop1 Everything! Fire Chief stressed a High Expansion Foam Generator was essential - critical even. High Expansion Foam Generators make lots of foam quickly to smother oil fires, fires in inaccessible areas such as mines, basements, tunnels, warehouses and maybe ships. Port Rashid happily placed the order. Months later the equipment was delivered and handed to Dubai Fire Brigade.

1972: Invitation to play with Foam and Fire Engines

Dubai Fire Station 1972 by Tony White

Dubai Fire Chief invited Port Rashid's Management to a full scale demonstration of his new fire fighting equipment. Who could miss an opportunity to play with a fire engine! Everyone went! Demonstration was 3pm next day at Deira Fire Station in Port Said Industrial Area located next to Al Maktoum Bridge Road near Dubai Clock Tower. Fire Chief introduced the afternoon's events. His Firemen would demonstrate their new fire engines, power saws, breathing apparatus and all the other "toys" they had been given. Grand finale was a full scale demonstration of Fire Chief's prized High Expansion Foam Generator.

Firemen first demonstrated their expertise with their new equipment then the HEF Generator was already set up on the large expanse of sand outside Deira Fire Station ready for the Fire Chief to press the start button - which he did with a grin. His prized Generator immendiately spewed out huge volumes of foam which rapidly spread across the sand and headed towards the Fire Station then into the Fire Station until it hit the back wall then continued upwards until it engulfed the new Fire Engines parked inside. Firemen started running into the Fire Station and disappearing in this wall of foam. Occasionally a waving arm appeared out of the foam. Foam was fun! Fire Chief decided enough was enough and pressed the stop button but by now there was a massive blanket of foam in and around Deira Fire Station. Then the wind changed direction! Foam, previously trapped inside the Fire Station, now started to slowly move out onto the sand area separating Deira Fire Station from Al Maktoum Bridge Road. But it didn't stop there. it continued drifting across this 80 metres of sand onto Al Maktoum Bridge Road. Dubai's Drivers expect the unexpected - but never expact to meet a metre deep blanket of brilliant white high expansion foam hiding the road ahead.

Traffic ground to a halt! Nothing could be done. Only wind and weather could break up this gleaming blanket of foam over time.


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