|Always alert: Nguyen Cao Thuong checks over his firefighting motorcycle which has been used to help control many blazes in Vinh Thuan Town. — File Photo
With his motorcyle modified to carry firefighting equipment, neighbourhood smoke watcher Nguyen Cao Thuong never gets stuck in traffic. Dong Xuan
In the recent past, whenever a fire has broken out in Vinh Thuan District in the southern province of Kien Giang, one man could be spotted driving his Vespa to the scene. That man is 47-year-old Nguyen Cao Thuong, a mechanic in Vinh Thuan District and inventor of a motorbike that serves as a fire fighting device.
The idea of a fire fighting motorbike began to take shape in Thuong's mind in early 2010 when he returned home late one night and coincidentally saw a fire in Vinh Tien Market.
The fire grew bigger while the villagers, with no fire fighting abilities, waited for the local fire truck to arrive. Ultimately, the fire was successfully put out, but it left a huge loss of material value.
Returning home, Thuong kept thinking about ways the villagers could more actively fight fires while waiting for assistance. No matter how fast the local fire fighting team was, there remained several obstacles to overcome: opening the storehouses to take out the equipment, mobilising the fire fighters, and navigating the narrow roads in the rural area to access the scene.
Thuong's idea was just a fleeting one at first. As his family's main income came from his small workshop, the idea of a fire fighting motorbike was pushed aside due to the lack of money.
Then Thuong witnessed the second fire in Vinh Thuan market, which caused damage to seven families of more than VND3 billion (US$144,200).
Feeling deeply concerned with the costs of such fires, Thuong was determined to realise his idea. As a mechanic, he used the parts available in his workshop and purchased what was unavailable to build a system that ran on the electric motorbike engine. Whenever the motorbike and the system are in use, water can be pumped into pipes for fire fighting.
Thuong spent several hours a day to invent the necessary equipment to improve his mobile fire fighting engine. After a few months, the contraption was about to be finished; however, the water ejected was still weak. Not discouraged, he continued perfecting his invention and ultimately Thuong's mobile fire fighting engine was finished.
After the fire at Vinh Thuan Market, another fire broke out in the cajuput garden located behind the cemetery of Vinh Thuan Town.
Immediately after hearing about the fire, he drove his motorbike to the scene and took part in extinguishing the fire. After that, Thuong bought a diesel engine to fit into his motorbike and turn it into a professional fire fighting machine.
Right after such improvements, in May 2010 a fire burst out in the house of a Vinh Thuan Town resident, burning it to the ground.
After hearing of the fire, Thuong immediately set out to prevent the fire from spreading to nearby households. With the assistance of his motorbike, he was able to detain the fire before professional fire-fighters arrived.
"Even though my fire fighting motorbike was not perfect, I could still use it to extinguish fires. However, it eventually broke down. After I had finished fixing it, my neighbour asked for help again. I then hurried to assemble the device and rushed to the scene to put out another fire," Thuong recalls.
It costs more than VND36 million (US$1,700), plus the cost of transportation to collect necessary equipment.
The finished mobile fire fighting motorbike is the fruit of Thuong's passion and determination. Not having much money, he spent all he had saved on his invention. Although many people still cast doubts on the invention's capacity, he is still very determined.
Up to now, Thuong's fire fighting motorbike has aided in putting out many fires in Vinh Thuan Town. After renovations, his motorbike can now eject water as far as 200 metres.
Fires that have been successfully extinguished have proven that Thuong's fire fighting motorbike is quick, efficient and active. Thuong on his motorbike always shows up to a fire before the local fire trucks, preventing the fire from spreading around.
Thuong is quite skilled, even though he has never attended any fire fighting training classes before.
Tran Viet My, deputy chief of Vinh Thuan Town's police department says, "thanks to Thuong's fire fighting motorbike, local fires, including those in small lanes, have been effectively extinguished on time. His active participation reflect his strong commitment and great responsibility in the community". — VNS