TNB Night Owl – Big Wind Firefighter

Big Wind firefighting vehicle. Image captured by the News Blender.

It looks like something out of a dystopian sci-fi flick, with two giant plasma-ray cannons (whatever those might be) mounted on top with which to evaporate alien invaders, or zombies and such. In reality, it’s dedicated to a very practical, present-day mission, though not one that’s an everyday occurence, fortunately. The Big Wind (as they’ve named the machine) puts out oil well fires better than any other technology known to man.

Built by the MOL Group, a multinational oil and gas company based in Budapest, Hungary, the rig was dreamed up by company engineers more than thirty years ago. At the time, MOL needed a guaranteed means to put out even the most tenacious wellhead fires and someone remembered seeing a jet engine mounted on the back of a truck that the Soviets used to fight oil well infernos. The Hungarians improved on the idea by using not one, but two jet engines from MiG-21 fighter planes, and dissed the truck in favor of an old Soviet battle tank. A total of six high-capacity water pipes supply six huge spray nozzles – three mounted over each jet engine.

In a typical wellhead fire, oil blows up and out of the wellhead. The fire, usually tens of feet above the wellhead, rages out of control. Big Wind simply drives up to the burning wellhead, begins spraying water on it, and starts the jet engines. The water cools off the wellhead and surrounding area – oil fires can reach several hundred degrees farenheit (high temperatures help a fire keep burning, cold temperatures discourage fire). The jet engines blow a high-velocity air and water mixture at the oil shooting up and out of the wellhead. Gushing oil is diverted by the jet-pressurized water stream, separating the fire above from its source of fuel (oil). Even the toughest fires quickly go out with this technique.

When Iraqi invaders fled Kuwait during the 1991 Gulf War, they used explosives to blow up wellheads as they left, starting more than 600 oilfield fires. Arriving by C-130 transport plane, Big Wind and three MOL Group employees were among the many oilwell fire experts that came to Kuwait to put out the flames. The Hungarian’s machine proved to be the only technology capable of putting out fires that would not succumb to any other technique. Big Wind is credited with snuffing out nine of the worst problem fires in Kuwait.

Big Wind was originally built on a WWII-era T-34 tank, which is seen in the video below as a green-colored chassis with red upper equipment. Sometime after 1991, the vehicle was upgraded with a T-55 tank chassis, which is entirely painted red. MOL Group still fields Big Wind when needed to fight the world’s toughest oilwell fires.

“The Most Powerful Fire Truck in The World – Big Wind” (2:34):

“Big Wind – Most Powerful Fire Truck” (1:47):

Question Of The Night: Did you ever want to be a firefighter when you grew up?

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About Richard Doud 622 Articles
Learning is a life-long endeavor. Never stop learning. No one is right all the time. No one is wrong all the time. No exceptions to these rules.