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Howe & Howe's Thermite® could have assisted in Holbrook, Arizona Firefighting Operations

Elizabeth Park, New Jersey
May 9, 2024

Following a train derailment on the Arizona – New Mexico state line on April 26, officials closed eastbound and westbound lanes of Interstate 40 for a prolonged period of time, as hazardous smoke plumes made driving conditions unsafe and extremely difficult. Firefighters on site watched over a controlled burn of fuel, which consumed most of the train cars. On Sunday, firefighters removed debris from the area to allow for early repair of the tracks. Thankfully, no one was hurt during this incident. The cause of the derailment is still under investigation at the time that this article was written.

Our Thermite® firefighting robot was made to suppress fires of this scale, while ensuring the safety of first responders. The Thermite family of products was designed to mitigate these life-threatening situations and provide fire suppression, situational awareness and intelligence gathering capabilities to first responders.

To help understand how this tool could be used to help mitigate injuries to all of those involved in fires of this scale, we compiled a list of some of the most common Thermite use cases below:


All our firefighting robots are standardly equipped with front and back facing cameras to help firefighters survey an area without entering a structure. This gives your boots on the ground clear data that can be used to determine whether it is safe to enter a structure, preventing costly injuries that occur on a regular basis. In this case, a robot could have been used to determine where these cars were burning at its strongest point and it could safely douse those points with a heavy flow of water, speeding up the fire suppression process.

Load Carrying/Pushing

Thermite robots can tow and push up to 8,000 pounds of weight. Pushing capacity like this could’ve allowed firefighters safe entry into those compromised zones at a much more efficient pace than traditional firefighting methods could provide.

Defensive Posturing

Our robots can run for hours on end, throwing water on a fire without agitating it. This allows firefighters out in the field to attack other jobs, leading to higher degree of success without injury. This also could have aided firefighters in getting to other important tasks at the Holbrook Derailment while the robot could lead the defensive fire fight.

The work that was done to put out this fire was exceptionally handled from a traditional firefighting perspective. A tool like the Thermite could quickly assist with intense firefighting operations while keeping those on the front lines safe.