The fire at Buncefield: example of the contributions UAVs could have made…
At around 6:03 am on 11
December, 2005, a massive fuel:air explosion occurred in a huge liquid fuel
products storage depot, at Buncefield.
Flames and smoke rise from the Buncefield oil depot, near Hemel Hempstead,
England, on Monday. Firefighters attacked an inferno raging at the oil depot
north of London, extinguishing half of the tank fires with sprays of chemical
foam (photo: AP) Al-Ahram.
Aerial view of Buncefield Oil and Fuel Depot at Hemel Hempstead, with the
explosion and main destruction area marked in red. Aerial photo data courtesy of
COPYRIGHT © Getmapping plc.
UAVs could be used to generate very useful composite images of the incident,
high resolution visual imaging, using a 10 MPixel digital camera with digital
correction for lens distortion, showing the smoke and flames, as seen above
thermal imaging to
“see through” the smoke
and view the flames and create a colour coded map, showing all the temperatures
in the image to within 1ºC
Interferometric Synthetic Aperture RADAR (ISAR, see Appendix 5 for technical
“see through” both smoke and flames
and image the underlying terrain, including any bodies, vehicles, debris and the
level of the flammable liquids in the open, damaged, storage silos.
Additionally, Unmanned Aircraft could contribute by:
continuously monitoring the fire
continuously monitoring the effectiveness of the fire fighting activities
dropping canisters of very cold liquid nitrogen, to both cool the fire and
reduce its intensity, by starving the fire of oxygen
flying through the smoke plume, to gather samples for subsequent analysis
monitoring the extent of the spreading smoke plume
watching for any looting that might occur, or, unauthorised entry to the danger
generating detailed 3D aerial imagery, to gauge the extent of the damage.