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Maine company makes history building nation's first firefighting robot

Howe and Howe Technologies in Waterboro designs and builds robots that helped fight a massive fire in downtown Los Angeles

WATERBORO, Maine — At Howe & Howe Technologies they build things. 

They build extreme vehicles for Hollywood movies—fast and powerful ones for the U.S. military, and helpful ones for first responders and people with disabilities.

Powerful technology that is making a difference and making history.

"It was all over the news last week, national news, LA fire department uses robot for the first time in fire. Guess where that was? Right here in Maine," Geoff Howe, CEO of Howe & Howe Technologies, said.

Howe and Howe Technologies in Waterboro is where brothers Mike and Geoff Howe have built robotic vehicles for decades. Twelve years ago, they designed one that could help fight fires.

"Let's take this unmanned technology and let's give firefighters a tool that can help save lives," Michael said.

Howe and Howe's two remote-controlled firefighting robots, RS1 and RS3, can unleash a lot of power. 

"The RS3 can deliver 2500 gallons a minute of water so that's [equivalent] to about 8 firefighters," Howe & Howe's product manager of small robotics, Paul Ford, said. 

"There's also cameras mounted on the nozzle itself [which] move. That's a thermal camera and visual camera," Ford said.

Ford also says the RS3, which weighs about 3,500 pounds is also equipped with a plow that can easily push debris out of the way.

 "You need to go through a wall to get into an area you can use this robot to do it," Ford said.

Credit: Paul Ford/Howe and Howe

The Los Angeles Fire Department recently purchased an RS3, Maine-made robot. It arrived in L.A. last Monday. The next day, on Tuesday, there was a five-alarm fire downtown.

Michael Howe quipped, "It literally went into battle before they had the packing tape off."

It was the nation's first firefighting robot. Made with pride. In Maine.

Credit: Paul Ford/Howe and Howe

"It's not a robot to replace them it's a tool, a tool in their tool belt that allows them to create standoff or bulldoze a car out of the way," Michael Howe said.

Geoff Howe added, "It's always important Mike and I can say we're from Maine and this is what Maine can offer."

Maine-made robot reinforcements that could help firefighters save lives. 

The Fort Worth, Texas Fire Department is the second department to purchase a Maine-made firefighting robot. Firefighters have already starting training on how to use it.

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