Dubai is a city in the United Arab Emirates that is known around the world for its great wealth and extravagance. Where do we start? It has an indoor ski hill, even though the temperature regularly averages in thirties (°C), and it has never, ever been lower than 4.3°C (39.7 °F) outside. It has a series of artificial islands built to look from above like a palm tree and another built to look like a map of the world. And it has dozens of massive skyscrapers, including the world's tallest, the Burj Khalifa. At 830 metres (2,723 feet), it is almost two times the height of the Empire State Building and nearly 300 metres taller than the CN Tower.
All those super tall buildings bring up an interesting point. What do you do when there is a fire on a building that reaches at least half a kilometre in the sky? They don't make ladders that big, after all. If only you could fly up there somehow, right?
Don't worry. Dubai is already on the case.
Jets pack a fire fighting punch
This city has not one but two jetpack prototypes in planning to be used by their fire department, part of Dubai Civil Defense. The first is an aquatic jetpack system called Dolphin. It will be used to do things like extinguish a burning car stuck on a bridge. They can also zip along open waterways to avoid the kind of traffic that would slow down a fire engine.
This jetpack uses a high-powered pump that takes water up through a hose and out through two jets (and is actually used by tourists already in many places around the world). The firefighter would travel by jetski to the blaze, then float up into the air and put out the fire. If you want some help seeing what that would look like, here's a video where Dubai Civil Defense demonstrates their Dolphin device.
Higher, faster, fighter
The second type of jetpack is even more amazing. This one doesn't just hover over the water like Dolphin. It actually flies and quite high, too! Dubai actually placed an order for the jetpacks in 2015 with a company in New Zealand called Martin. The packs can reach a height of over 900 metres (3,000 feet), which means, yes: it can reach the top of the giant Burj Khalifa. It uses two duct fan engines to take to the skies. And it can even be remotely piloted, so that it could pick up a stranded person trapped by fire.
So, looking forward to the day when the sound of sirens in your hometown brings jetpacks instead of firetrucks? Don't get too excited. The Dolphin system costs $35,000 US a piece, while one duct fan jetpack is $250,000 US! Still, it is pretty cool to know that somewhere, firefighters will be flying into action. Literally!
Check out a video on these exciting emergency vehicles below.