Whether Tornadoes or Flash Floods – Bobcat Loaders Support Firefighters in Czechia

Posted: 27 July 2022

Bobcat loaders are sought-after machines, especially in the construction industry. But they also play an essential role in many other areas. For 10 years now, 13 Bobcat S650 skid-steer loaders have been supporting the Fire Service of the Czech Republic. During that time they have performed outstandingly in all kinds of operations, including major floods, traffic accidents or the recent tornado in Moravia, a region in the east of the country.

The Bobcat loaders were purchased in 2012 by the Fire Rescue Service of the Czech Republic. This was made possible in part by the use of the European Union’s Structural Funds. The Bobcat loaders and their attachments are now used in almost every region of the Czech Republic – for transporting materials during operations and for building earth walls after floods, as well as for removing debris when searching for and rescuing disaster victims. The machines are fitted with robust, highly durable tires to minimize the risk of punctures. Among the attachments, 4-in-1 combination buckets, industrial grapples, breakers and sweepers are most commonly used in rescue work.

In use for 10 years

The Fire Service’s loaders have proven their worth in many operations on an almost daily basis. Over the past 10 years, they have been indispensable helpers in numerous crisis situations. They were used, for example, to clear debris after the massive explosion at the ammunition depot in Vrbětice in 2014 and to support the operations after the tornado in Moravia in 2021. They also help out in the event of flash floods, which unfortunately occur regularly in the Czech Republic.

At the Fire Rescue Service in the Olomouc region, the Bobcat S650 loader is mainly used for emergencies caused by natural disasters. “The S650 is a versatile and durable tool in firefighting. Without its power and flexibility, we would have been dealing with some of the aftermath of out-of-the-ordinary operations for much longer. Thanks to its versatility, we even use the S650 for innovative and unique procedures when fighting fires, such as evacuating fire-prone vehicles from inaccessible areas,” explains Lt. Mgr. Lucie Balážová, spokesperson of the Olomouc region’s Fire Rescue Service.

“The S650 is a great aid, which we initially used for development work at our station and, over time, also for operations, where it has proven itself to be very useful. It has excellent off-road capability, offers high performance and is amazingly versatile – we use a range of attachments for loading, sweeping and working with pallets. It’s also extremely reliable,” says Lt. Col. Jaroslav Mikoška, spokesperson of the Fire Rescue Service of the region of South Moravia.

The Bobcat loaders did a great job in clearing the debris and devastation caused by the tornado in Moravia. They were in action for days, working reliably and almost without a break. Tomáš Grošek, operations engineer, explains: “In this operation, the Bobcat S650s proved to be excellent helpers, not only for us, but also for the residents of the affected areas who needed their services the most.”

Long service life with effective and simple maintenance

Bobcat loaders have a very long service life. However, they can only perform at their best if they are maintained regularly and to a high standard. Bobcat has always attached great importance to making the machines as easy as possible to maintain. Tomáš Grošek adds: “Maintenance of the S650 is simple and easy to perform. All maintenance points are clearly visible and easily accessible for the user. It’s straightforward to check operating fluids and replace parts. Major maintenance and repair work is carried out by our Bobcat dealer in the Czech Republic.”

“Bobcat machines are designed and manufactured to provide many years of heavy-duty service. So it’s not at all surprising that they’re still with the Fire Service after 10 years of use. Usually, with good maintenance, it’s possible to use the machines for much longer than that,” explains Petr Hejduk, President of Bobcat CZ, Bobcat’s authorized dealer in the Czech Republic.

The Bobcat S650 loaders in action – some examples

Over the past year, the Fire Rescue Service in the Czech Republic responded to a total of 142,055 calls, firefighters rescued 30,834 people and evacuated 56,163 citizens. Specialized equipment, including Bobcat loaders, is used in numerous operations.

Flash floods – Bobcat loaders are frequently used to clean up the aftermath of local flash floods and torrential rains. The loaders remove alluvial deposits such as wood and plants as well as debris from damaged houses. They are also used to clear mud and other materials from roads. The Bobcat loaders were used very effectively during the devastating flash floods of June 2020, when they were deployed to clear the aftermath of the floods in the Olomouc region. Torrential rains had completely destroyed the villages’ infrastructures, including bridges, roads and houses. The Bobcat loaders worked for 6 days straight, with firefighters taking turns on the machines.

Road operations – In a road accident in northern Moravia involving a tanker truck loaded with liquid asphalt, a car overturned and one of the tanks was damaged so badly that hot asphalt leaked onto the highway. The Bobcat S650 helped to clear the hot asphalt, reducing damage to the road and speeding up operations on the busy expressway between the cities of Brno and Olomouc.

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