BORDER AND TRANSPORTATION SECURITY FRYING PAN… HRI, a high-temperature repair and inspection company, is bringing its expertise to homeland security. OUT OF THE F or Butch Rankin and his two sons, stepping into the heat of a new industry is anything but new. For pan of water to cool their feet," says Butch Rankin of his crew’s attempt to repair the hot equipment. “I thought, ‘there’s bound to be some better way’.” Safety regulations obviously no longer allow such stunts, but the Rankins knew there had to be a better way. In 1986, they set out to develop a system that would protect tradesmen from high temperatures and toxic fumes. They built a testing booth on their farm near Buffalo, Missouri, and began experimenting with protective clothing. “Proximity suits have been around for years,” said Roger, Butch’s oldest son. “The armed services have used them quite a bit. NASA developed a lot of the materials, but no one had built any type of heat-resistant suit that would fit in an extremely confined space.” After more than 15 years of trial and modification, HRI finally arrived at its current patented design. The 27-pound suit has an aluminized surface, which is backed by a moisture barrier and fireproof coveralls. These three layers are what protect the wearer from heat, steam and flame. An years, the boilermakers of HRI, Inc. have worked in searing temperatures, repairing oil refineries and factories across the country. Now, a new division of the company, HRI Enterprises, brings the boilermakers’ years of expertise, innovation and design to the homeland security industry. Years of technology development and implementation led the company to develop the HRI Disaster Response System, an independent suit system designed for the most heat-combatant situations. The system – which includes an anti-heat, anti-toxin full-body suit, independent air source and level monitors – allows a person to work in extremely high temperatures for an extended period of time. The idea came from many years of making high-temperature repairs as boilermakers. “They would run in, hold their breath, do what they could and run out. Their feet would be so hot they’d step in a 144 BTS AMERICA BORDER AND TRANSPORTATION SECURITY “ work site. just like putting on a welding hood.” United States. With this system, first responders will be able to do things they’ve never done before The system has primarily been used for the high-temperature repairs and inspections HRI deals with on a regular basis. That is, until recently, when Roger felt compelled to introduce this vital technology to the homeland security industry. “We know that the system can fill a wide range of needs,” said Roger. “The same technology we use to work on oil refineries is what disaster workers use to conduct search and rescue, investigate toppled buildings, put out fires and manage highaviation-type respirator provides breathing air from lines connected to the outside while a back-up bottle carried inside the suit offers five-minutes of emergency air. A personal air conditioner cools the suit and workers communicate with a microphone and a video camera mounted in the hood. Each suit is also equipped with a retrieval harness so the person can be quickly pulled from a “When I first started using the suit, it was kind of a rush,” Roger says. “But after you get used to it, it becomes old hat. Pretty soon it’s In regular use since 1996, HRI has an excellent track record with its patented suit. As more companies learn about HRI, and its suit system’s capabilities, its client list has grown to include refineries, power plants and several other industries throughout the damage disaster situations.” The ability to use the system in high temperatures and confined spaces – along with its voice communication, in-hood cameras and personal cooling system – have encouraged enquiries across many different industries for several different uses. “It is exciting to hear about the many different possibilities the suit has opened up,” says Roger. “We’ve been approached about uses as varied as fighting fires aboard ships to industrial ovens and foundries.” Butch Rankin, founder of HRI Enterprises, believes this groundbreaking technology will be significantly instrumental in saving lives in future disasters. “With this system, first responders will be able to do things they’ve never done before. It will allow them to work in extreme conditions to rescue both victims and vital evidence before it is destroyed.” ■ ” BTS AMERICA 145 For more information about HRI Enterprise’s Disaster Response System, visit www.gdsinternational.com/readerenquiry/ and enter 2323.