As publicity stunts go, the leaders of Extinction Rebellion were convinced they had the makings of the most spectacular yet. They had bought a fire engine on eBay, filled its tank with 400 gallons of blood red dye and parked it up directly outside the Grade II listed building housing Her Majesty’s Treasury.
However, the eco-warriors planning to spray the “environmentally unfriendly” ministry blood red had failed to appreciate how unpredictable a fire hose can be when discharging a liquid at high pressure.
Within seconds of turning the pump on the excessive water pressure blew off the hose connection to the fireman’s nozzle, causing the flailing hose to drench them with dye.
Others were sent scurrying for cover as the snake-like piping thrashed violently on the ground creating a huge puddle of red. Those activists brave enough to try to grapple with it were knocked off their feet.
Eventually, one bright spark turned off the pump, extinguishing their hopes of coating the Treasury opposite St James’ Park in London with fake blood.
To make matters worse, by then a huge pall of thick, acrid smoke had belched out from the eight-litre diesel fire engine.
Two things could have happened here. The hose was not correctly fixed to the nozzle, enabling it to tear itself away under the pressure of the water, or and more likely, on older fire engines you’d have to manually identify the exact flow pressure for every hose by setting the discharge valve correctly. Not doing this could send far too much pressure into the hose causing a failure of the pipe connection.
One thing for sure is that its ended up being a potentially dangerous situation. Not only could a hose of this pressure knock someone off of their feet, it could cause serious bodily harm or even death.