Science Information

Issues with Aerial Fire Fighting

A few years ago I visited the Wyoming Contractor, which used WWII aircraft to fight such fires. I was amazed that such old aircraft were not in museums but rather in flying condition and used for dropping phoschek on fires. Nicknamed the "Borate Bombers" after the old material, which for years we used to drop on fires from the air. It was very red, highly toxic to plant life but certainly would do it's job when put on top of a fire or in the path of one.

I have always pondered the methods of fire fighting by air and the possible future fighting methods with UAVs, robots in combination with a national forest policy which would allow some smaller fires to burn their course and others to be put out when in sensitive areas to human structures, life or endangered species. We cannot totally prevent forest fires by simply "Giving a Hoot" since many are naturally occurring and have been since the writings of the first explorers and the drawings and past down tales of the Indians living there before the discovery of the then modern world. The earliest voyagers scouting out and mapping what is now California's coastline mentioned the wild fires that occur naturally. With some fires now occurring unnaturally; arson, carelessness of cigarettes (here is an idea to be sold in areas near forest regions? Self-Extinguishing Cigarettes?)

And accidents of mankind we are forced to fight these unnatural fires unnaturally with aircraft. We do this for reasons of safety, human life, bambi and property.

The CDF (California Department of Forestry) has many aircraft and the C-130s of the California Air National Guard are equipped to spray phoschek D75 (it's a combination of diammonium phosphate, chemical stabilizers and pink oxide iron dye) on fires. Protocol has been developed for faster response after a political bureaucratic blunder back in the early 90s when they sat on the ground waiting for the announcement of Disaster Area, before launching and the aircraft sat on the ground for 11 hours until other means were exhausted and the fire burned out of control from Calabasas through Malibu to the pacific ocean and back towards the Conejo Valley. Now days the mutual response protocol delivers not only the CDF but also the coordinated efforts of the Air National Guard and local and regional fire fighters immediately. Politically speaking we are fighting fires faster and more efficient these days, but it is up to all of us to watch out for arsonists and extinguish those coffin nails, when are you going to quit? Think about all this and do your part.

"Lance Winslow" - If you have innovative thoughts and unique perspectives, come think with Lance;

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