Thrust SSC - Supersonic Race Update

Issue 100 Lead Article - 16th March 1997

Preparing For Any Eventuality

by Pete Ross (Engineering Manager) and Jeremy Davey (Webmaster and Satellite Communications Manager)

As ThrustSSC achieves higher and higher speeds, it is essential that the Team be prepared for all eventualities. Part of that preparation is ensuring that the carís design is absolutely "spot-on": the car is frequently, and justifiably, described as the best-designed World Land Speed Record car ever built - certainly it has the most researched design of any car to attempt the record, and the systems are designed to ensure that the car stays safe at all times.

Nothing can ever be left to chance with a venture like this, however, and the ThrustSSC Team are delighted to have use of the Jaguar XJR Firechase in case of any incident. The Jaguarís crew of Roadshow Organiser Mike Hearn and Transport Manager Brian Palmer need to ensure that their firefighting skills are always current, and that their familiarity with the carís equipment is not allowed to diminish. Seconds can be critical when fighting fire.

Training in close to the fire
(Fighting in close to the fire. Photo: Pete Ross)

A need for further Fire Training before leaving for Jordan was identified, and London Gatwickís Airport Fire Service quickly stepped in with an offer of assistance. Hence the 3rd and 4th of March saw Firechase, Brian and Mike visiting Gatwick for two intense days of Hot Fire Training under the instruction of Station Officer John Trew and Fireman Simon Rolfe. Andy Green and Pete Ross also went along to watch!

High flames during training
(Fighting a large fuel fire. Photo: Pete Ross)

The first day was spectacular! Simulated fuel spill fires and simulated engine fires on a mock-up of ThrustSSC using a number of different scenarios saw flames leaping 30 feet into the air as the Firechase crew received advice on the use of equipment, extinguishers and fire-fighting procedures. Six fuel fires were expertly dealt with, giving Mike and Brian plenty of first-hand experience of using the Jaguar and its equipment, while ITNís film crew were able to get some splendid footage. Sponsors Angus Fire, Jaguar cars and Racal Health and Safety were also on hand, and were delighted with the opportunity to see their equipment in use by expert hands.

The second day was rather less dramatic, but no less important, as rescue tools were put to serious use. The Junkers cutting gear scythed quickly and efficiently through hard steel, while the airbag rescue equipment effortlessly lifted and moved heavy objects. Nor did the rescue simulation stop at cutting through to a trapped driver - snatch rescue techniques and emergency first aid were also practiced.

Brian and Mike fighting an engine fire
(Fighting an engine fire. Photo: Pete Ross)

Brian and Mike performed superbly during their two days of hard training and John Trew was more than happy with their performance - one which has given the crew of Firechase invaluable knowledge and experience which would otherwise have been impossible to gain, and Andy the confidence that they can now deal efficiently with any emergency.

A valuable side benefit to the exercise has been the identification of a number of other needs: modifications to Firechase (to be carried out by Jaguar), more breathing apparatus (to be supplied by Racal Health and Safety), better hand-held fire extinguishers (to be supplied by Angus fire), and new fire helmets (to be supplied by Gallet International).

A big thank you to the Airport Fire service and, very well done to Mike and Brian!

Pete Ross

The author of this article, Pete_Ross, is ThrustSSC's Engineering Manager.

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