Taking the Right Approach to Fighting Grass Fires
Approaching a grass fire is very different than approaching a structural fire, and with that comes its own set of risks and techniques to use. Grass and forest fires can move quickly and change in the blink of eye. It is important to use adequate safety precautions and stay alert. When a fire is spreading at high speed, itís important to remember that you cannot out run a wild fire and it must be attacked differently.
Create a Fire Break: A fire break is a technique used to prevent a fire from jumping and spreading further by removing combustible material to act as a barrier to slow or stop the progress.
Using the right tools:
- Foam can be used quickly and effectively to suppress fire and contain forward progress around the fire perimeter. The three characteristics of foam are that it 1) Smothers oxygen supply and completely surrounds burning material, 2) Isolates fuels sources by wetting down unburned fuel ahead of the approaching fire, quickly soaking into the fuel and rendering it almost flame resistant, and 3) Insulates by completely surrounding fuels and separates them from the fire, allowing the water to sit on the fuel for extended periods of time, preventing it from igniting thus reducing the amount of water needed. The TFT PRO/pak is a system used with 1" and 1.5" fire hoses with a twist grip valve and carrying handle. This system is an easy-to-use go-to for grass fires and beyond. The TFT PRO/pak gets rave reviews from the field for its maneuverability and strength and usability in a multitude of situations.
- Bush trucks are incredibly versatile and can get in a lot of places an Engine wouldn't be able to, which is imperative when controlling a wild fire. Many departments have full vehicle Rapid Response or bush buggy set-ups, or in some cases, a removable slip-on package to allow the vehicle to be used in the winter for other purposes. This enables the department to choose customizable pieces; there are a number of additional options for the package including foam system, a hose-tray option, storage frame under tank and more.
- A McLeod Tool is a tough, solid raking tool used at the fire line and doubles as a hoe or tamper for use in matted leaves and moving loose ground rubble.
- Designed for direct attack on fires in grass, leaves and underbrush, a Firefighting Broom is a useful tool for sweeping burning embers back into the burned area and patrolling fire breaks, while being light enough to be easily carried to remote areas. Sometimes the only alternative is to carry 4-gallons of water on a bush pak and walk the line!
Apparatus Placement: Having an escape plan also means being aware of your apparatus placement. With unpredictable wind changes, the last thing you want is the fire heading full speed towards your truck. Make sure your apparatus is close by but far enough away from the flames that youíre not putting it at risk.
Protecting Yourself: The most important thing to remember is fire fighter safety! Having the proper flame retardant clothing and tools is critical in staying safe. This could mean the difference between going home or to the hospital at the end of the day. It is too easy to underestimate the destructive force of a wild fire. Always have an escape plan going into the call - stay alert Ė and donít go where you canít get out.