LAFD Debuts the RS3: First Robotic Firefighting Vehicle in the United States

Tuesday, October 13, 2020
Fire Chief and city officials standing with the yellow, robotic firefighting vehicle - a compact tracked vehicle
Photo Credits: Creative Commons licensed for your use | LAFD Photo by Gary Apodaca

The Los Angeles City Fire Department debuted the first robotic firefighting vehicle in the United States, putting it to use on its first day in service.

The Thermite RS3 (manufactured by Textron: Howe & Howe Technologies) is a compact, low-center of gravity, wide chassis, industrial robotic firefighting vehicle. It is capable of flowing 2,500 gallons per minute and is remotely operated with a controller which provides high-definition video feedback for ultimate maneuverability in difficult conditions.

New challenges continue to emerge in the fire service and the LAFD is committed to leveraging technology to enhance firefighting operations while reducing risk to firefighters. While the RS3 is not the answer to all types of firefighting, it will assist with safe interior fire operations on large commercial fires, wood-framed structures under construction, structural defense at wildfires, large animal rescues, fuel tanker fires, auto storage fires and much more.

The LAFD Foundation received a generous donation to purchase the RS3 and donate it to the Department. Without this tremendous support, it would not be possible to add this advanced technology to the fleet.

The RS3 was formally introduced to the public at a press conference on October 13, 2020. However, it had already gotten dirty at an early morning Major Emergency commercial structure fire that morning - proving it's value from the start.

The RS3 will be housed at Fire Station 3 in Downtown LA as a part of the Urban Search and Rescue Task Force. It will be deployed to incidents via a dedicated trailer towed by a pick up truck. The LAFD trained operators with the assistance of the developers from Textron. These operators are now LAFD trainers and will develop multiple operators throughout the Department.

Technical Specifications:

  • 3500 lbs.
  • 5’5” wide
  • 5’5” tall
  • 7’ long
  • 8 mph top speed
  • 8,000 lbs. winch 
  • 50% slope
  • 35% side slope
  • Front Plow blade to push debris, including vehicles
  • Compatible for Interchangeable accessories for future needs  
  • 36 HP Diesel engine
  • Run time of 20 hours without refueling
  • Hose stream reach of 300 ft. horizontal & 150 ft. Vertical 
  • 2,500 GPM        





Share this
Follow LAFD