Firefighters of the Hujialou Fire Squadron in Chaoyang district, Beijing, load fire-extinguishing rockets on a launch vehicle on Sunday. Wang Yufei / For China Daily


        Beijing has introduced a fire-extinguishing rocket system to handle blazes in its Central Business District, the city's densest skyscraper cluster.

The system, which looks like a multiple rocket launcher, can fire rockets filled with a fire-extinguishing agent to hit targets up to 300 meters, which is about 80 floors up.

The rocket is capable of going through glass up to 19 millimeters thick when launched from hundreds of meters away, according to the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, the nation's largest missile maker and the system's developer.

It uses technologies from China's space launch vehicles and missiles and each rocket can put out a fire quickly in a room of up to 60 cubic meters, the company said.

In an actual fire, infrared and laser sensors on the launch vehicle will detect and calculate the location and height of the blaze, and the ballistic computer will produce a launch angle and trajectory for the rocket.

After entering a room on fire through a window, the rocket will release 3.6 kilograms of fire-extinguishing powder to suppress the blaze, the company said in a news release. It said a launch vehicle is able to fire a round of 24 rockets in 72 seconds and can be quickly reloaded.

One such launch vehicle was delivered in late January to the Hujialou Fire Squadron in Chaoyang district. The squadron is responsible for the CBD, which has seven out of the top 10 highest buildings in Beijing, including the 330-meter China World Trade Center Tower III, the tallest completed building in the city.

The squadron is the second user of the system in China after a chemical producer in Shandong province also bought a launch vehicle, said Wang Heng, marketing manager of the system at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. Wang said on Monday that each unit, with a launcher and rockets, costs about 8.5 million yuan ($1.24 million).

He said that two vehicles will soon be delivered to other users while a total of 10 vehicles have been ordered by new buyers, without giving the names of the new users and buyers.

Qiu Xuyang, the chief designer of the system, said it has a high level of accuracy and safety.

"In case the missile accidentally deviates from the predetermined course, the control system will guide it to fall to the ground," he said.

It is difficult for firefighters anywhere to handle a fire 60 meters above the ground because there are few types of equipment capable of transporting extinguishing agents, primarily water, to that height, Qiu said.

He said his product is the first fire-extinguishing rocket system in the world.

Kang Qingchun, a professor specializing in fire control at the Chinese People's Armed Police Force Academy, said the apparatus will be useful because now only the fire suppression equipment inside skyscrapers can be relied on if a blaze occurs.

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