This robot - named SAFFiR, for Shipboard Autonomous Firefighting Robot is being designed to "move autonomously throughout the ship, interact with people, and fight fires, handling many of the dangerous firefighting tasks that are normally performed by humans." The work is being done by the Naval Research Laboratory and an interdisciplinary team from Virginia Tech and University of Pennsylvania. Here's the link to an article on MarineLink.com: http://www.marinelink.com/news/robot-fire-send342984.aspx
I think the big news here, and the thing that just might allow this idea to work well, is that SAFFiR will be "autonomous" - able to move, evaluate, problem-solve, and react on its own. Its life on a single battery charge is only listed at 30 minutes, but that will probably be improved later. As we all know, there are times after the fire is extinguished that are as hazardous as the fire itself - such as evaluating an engine room after CO2 flooding - and SAFFiR could be ideal for such jobs.
SAFFiR is some years away from availability to the maritime industry, I'm sure - but developers plan to test it in a realistic shipboard firefighting environment on a decommissioned Navy ship in September, 2013. I'll be very interested to read how he (it?) fared.
Have any experience with shipboard fires? Can you point us to any useful resources? Please comment below!