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Taiwan premier recommends using robots to fight fires

Legislators say robots can save firefighters' lives

The factory fire in Taichung Thursday October 3 (photo courtesy of Taichung Fire Department).

The factory fire in Taichung Thursday October 3 (photo courtesy of Taichung Fire Department). (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – After the deaths of two young firefighters at an illegal factory, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) on Friday (October 4) recommended the use of robots to help out in dangerous situations.

Two firefighters in their early thirties, one about to marry and the other leaving behind an infant and a wife pregnant with twins, died inside a burning factory in Taichung which allegedly turned out to be illegal. They shouldn’t have been sent inside the sheet metal structure in the first place because there were no people inside who needed saving, reports said.

Responding to questioning and suggestions from lawmakers, Su said that robots should be used as much as possible where they were practical.

Legislators suggested that as Taiwan had an advanced electronics industry, it could profit from the development of artificial intelligence and robotics to design suitable robots which could save firefighters’ lives, the Central News Agency reported.

The premier said the government was moving in that direction and would strengthen such research, while also drawing other lessons from Thursday (October 3) morning’s fire.

After the government said the basic principle was that if no people were trapped inside, fire fighters should not enter a site, the Taichung Fire Department replied that at the time, the part of the factory where the two men entered had not been on fire yet. The men’s main task was to go inside to control the heat and prevent the blaze from spreading, CNA reported.