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Meet creator of mini ‘fire engine’ designed for Saigon’s narrow alleys

Sunday, September 20, 2020, 10:20 GMT+7
Meet creator of mini ‘fire engine’ designed for Saigon’s narrow alleys
Ly Nhon Thanh sits on a fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Kim Ut / Tuoi Tre

Understanding the difficulties of putting out flames in Ho Chi Minh City’s tiny alleys, a Vietnamese man has modified a three-wheeler into a mini ‘fire engine' for use in such situations.

Ly Nhon Thanh, 54, has been the head of the neighborhood guardian team of Nguyen Thai Binh Ward, District 1, Ho Chi Minh City since 2008.

Since then, he has observed many house fires looked upon by firefighters unable to help because of limited access to the buildings, which are nestled inside alleys too narrow for full-sized fire trucks.

To solve the problem, Thanh modified a three-wheeled motorbike, turning it into a mini fire engine which easily maneuvers through narrow alleys to reach a fire.

The local fire brigade gave approval to the improvised fire motorcycle and has allowed Thanh to use it to help battle several blazes.

“It took me more than three weeks to complete the first fire engine. Despite many failures, I got it done,” Thanh said, laughing.

Ly Nhon Thanh inspects the hose of his fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Kim Ut / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh inspects the hose of his fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Kim Ut / Tuoi Tre

He has taken part in extinguishing more than thirty fires since designing the fire motorcycle.

Thanh even created two more that can aid in both firefighting and rushing injured residents to the hospital.

The last time he used his fire bike to help put out a fire was on August 28, when the flame broke out in a narrow alley on Nguyen Cong Tru Street, District 1.

Thanh drove his vehicle to support the squad of firefighters and rescue the victim’s assets.

“On that day I heard some people screaming for help. When we got there, the building was engulfed in flames,” recalled Thanh.

“Thanks to my motorcycle, we were able to navigate our way deep into the alley to battle the blaze."

Ly Nhon Thanh rides his custom-made fire bike into a small alley in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City to help put out a fire. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh rides his custom-made fire bike into a small alley in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City to help put out a fire. Photo: Minh Hoa / Tuoi Tre

At the end of March, concerned about the fact many roads and houses were flooded by torrential downpours, Thanh decided to equip his vehicles with a pump to help dry out the water when necessary.

He has since used his pump to bail water out of flooded areas throughout his community.  

Thanh’s guardian team also supports the police of Nguyen Thai Binh Ward in cracking down on crimes, having chased after hundreds of robbers in numerous cases of robbery and drug trafficking.

Thanh’s selfless devotion to the community has been recognized by authorities who have thanked him for safeguarding his neighborhood.

Ly Nhon Thanh (left) looks on as a coworker wipes a battering ram clean before loading it onto a fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Thu Hien / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh (left) looks on as a coworker wipes a battering ram clean before loading it onto a fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Thu Hien / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh speaks on a walkie-talkie on a fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Thu Hien / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh speaks on a walkie-talkie on a fire bike modified from a three-wheeled motorbike. Photo: Thu Hien / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh (left) sits on his motorcycle next to two coworkers. He bought the motorcycle with his own money to chase robbers. Photo: Thu Hien / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh (left) sits on his motorcycle next to two coworkers. He bought the motorcycle with his own money to chase robbers. Photo: Thu Hien / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh looks at a journal where he keeps photos of his past cases of chasing after robbers. Photo: Kim Ut / Tuoi Tre

Ly Nhon Thanh looks at a journal where he keeps photos of his past cases of chasing after robbers. Photo: Kim Ut / Tuoi Tre

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