As if their job wasn’t dangerous enough, during the winter months many firefighters around the world have to contend with the dangers of black ice at their own station-houses BEFORE answering emergency calls.
Areas of black ice can pose a real danger to firefighting crews as they rush to respond, especially on cold, dark winter nights. In an effort to help minimise this risk to their firefighters the New Zealand Fire Service have been installing a unique and innovative ice warning device at a number of their sites throughout the country’s South Island.
The New Zealand Fire Services’ interest in the product came as a result of a donation of several ice-detecting pavement markers made to a local station by the device’s manufacturer, SolarBright Limited, after a member of their staff had to call on emergency services late one night. Following an off the cuff remark by an first responder, and a couple of in-house “water-cooler” meetings, the SolarBright team decided that the company would offer to donate and install their award-winning PATeye at the ice-prone station as a small token of appreciation and as a way of helping the community-based fire crews avoid slips and falls caused by black ice.
The PATeye is a self-contained solar-powered reflective marker and warning system that is triggered when ground temperature & moisture levels indicate the very high likelihood of ice formation, illuminating the road/pavement and drawing attention to hidden patches of ‘black ice’. Once triggered the onboard LEDs flash blue and provide an active, real-time warning alerting to the high probability of surface ice.
PATeye is ideal for walkways, steps, paving areas, car parks and general access areas in and around any premises, wherever ice may be present. In addition to providing an active warning to personnel on foot, the flashing PATeye also serves as an indication of the road conditions that drivers are likely to find on the roads leaving the station thereby further enhancing the safety of both fire crews and the public.
The initial install was soon followed by several enquiries and orders from individual regional stations and it wasn’t long before Solarbright were approached by the New Zealand Fire Service (NZFS) with a view to rolling out the PATeye across all their ice-affected properties.
As a result of these conversations NZFS are now starting an installation programme which, beginning with their 24 hour-manned “Career Stations” in and around Canterbury, will ultimately see the deployment of the award-winning PATeye at all South Island NZFS facilities which are prone to the formation of black ice.
Commenting on the NZDF adoption of the PATeye as a health and safety tool at their stations Nicola Martin, SolarBright’s MD said “It’s fantastic for us to be able to work with and help the NZFS in protecting their crews from the hazards of black ice at their stations, after all, their work is dangerous and difficult enough on a bright sunny day let alone in the middle of a cold winter’s night. It’s also nice to see that the idea of “paying forward” to the brave men and women of our local emergency services has had such a great, and unexpected, outcome for our business”.
The PATeye is proving to be a valuable Health and Safety asset across all sectors of the emergency services in New Zealand and is now used, not only by the Fire Service, but also by the New Zealand Police Service and the New Zealand Defence Force to help protect their personnel, visitors and contractors from the risks the of slips, falls and personal injury caused by ice at their facilities.
The PATeye is manufactured and patented world-wide by Solarbright Limited.
For more information, go to www.solarbright.co.nz