Dubai firefighters to get jetpacks in 2016

Dubai Civil Defence places a $5 million order for 20 jetpacks to help its firefighters deal with skyscraper blazes.

Peter Iantorno November 17, 2015

The future of firefighting in Dubai has been given a serous superhero-style boost with the news that from 2016, the emirate’s fire service will be equipped with jetpacks.

Dubai Civil Defence signed a deal reportedly worth in excess of $5 million to buy 20 jetpacks as well as two simulators and operational support and training from the New Zealand-based company Martin Aircraft.

“We see them performing in a first-responder role,” Lieutenant-Colonel Ali Hassan Almutawa, Director of the Dubai Civil Defence operations department, said. “Sometimes we have challenges to reach the top floors of tall buildings. These aircraft can go into confined spaces to size up the situation. We are going to modify them with thermal imaging cameras.”

The jetpacks are able to carry a weight of up to 120kg, keep a first responder in the air for up to 45 minutes and can reach altitudes of up to 915m – almost 100m higher than the pinnacle of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world – although it doesn’t reach anywhere near those dizzying heights in the video above.

It is hoped that such an innovation will go a long way to helping firefighters tackle incidents such as this February’s blaze at the Dubai Marina’s Torch Tower, which saw flames race up the exterior of the 325m, 79-floor building, luckily without causing any injuries.

“Dubai is one of the fastest growing future cities in the world with its modern skyscrapers and vast infrastructure,” Almutawa continued. “It has always been a world leader in adopting new technology to improve and save people’s lives. The introduction of Martin Jetpacks into our fleet of emergency response vehicles is another example of how Dubai leads the world.”

Made of carbon fibre and 3D printed parts and powered by a V4 200-horsepower petrol engine controlling two ducted fans, the jetpacks can take off and land vertically, fly at a top speed of more than 70kmh and are equipped with a parachute for safety.

Peter Coker, chief executive of Martin Aircraft, has called the technology “Bond-like” and in a statement, he praised the UAE’s “strong and visionary leadership that has recognised the importance and utility of our technology”.

The jetpacks are due for delivery next year, so it won’t be long before Jetman isn’t the only superhero conquering Dubai’s skies.