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Despite the current lockdown, we are now firmly in the wildfire season as spring is the point in the year when flammability peaks, with the most dead leaf and woody matter available to burn.
Traditionally the wildfire season lasted from March to September each year. However, 2019 was the worst year on record for wildfires and the debate continues as to whether this was due to climate change or the careless actions of people discarding cigarettes or intentionally setting fires.
Most importantly however, the scale and duration of the wildfires in 2019 was a huge stretch on fire and rescue service resources and the service will be hoping that 2020 will see a lower level of wildfires, particularly while firefighters are involved in supporting other emergency services during the Covid-19 pandemic.
So if you are considering purchasing wildfire firefighting tools as a preventative measure, what is the difference between them and which are likely to be most effective?
The right tools for the job
Because of the differences between firefighting wildfires and firefighting in other types of environment, a whole family of wildfire equipment and tools has been developed. Some tools used to destroy the fuel in a wildfire are strictly for use by a fire crews but there are some that are easy to use and can defuse or slow a fire, for example:
Fire beaters can be used to effectively put out general fires in open areas such as grass fires etc. The industrial grade rubber acts as a beater to knock out the flames, dissipate burning fuel and halt the fire. It has a red fibreglass handle to allow the beating operation to happen at a distance. When the beater hits the ground, the oxygen supply to the fire is cut off, but it must be used with caution as otherwise it can end up adding more oxygen to the fire. This is an example of a tool that would deal with a small fire and is often used by professional and amateur firefighters alike. After use, it is advisable to hose the area down to make sure any further flare ups are avoided. You can learn more about the Firechief Fire Beater by watching this video
A fire rake is a wildland fire fighting tool with a fibreglass handle and a rake head consisting of four very sharp, serrated, triangular steel blades. It is used to rake a fire break with the sharp teeth enabling it to reach fire in undergrowth in addition to loosening surface debris.
A fire fighter will rake burning material back into the area already burned, or 'black', moving the fire from the fuel ahead of it creating a fire break. This allows the fire fighter to stay safely on the 'black', while quickly moving the fire away from further fuel. The burning material is left to burn itself out away from the edge of the fire line, or another fire fighter with a fire beater will smother it if required. The tool will cut through any undergrowth that may be burning and overturn some soil further assisting in creating a fire break, smothering fire, and lowering the temperature of burning materials below their threshold of ignition.
The Rakehoe, also known as the McLeod rake, is primarily a two-sided blade on a long, fibreglass handle designed to rake fire lines with the teeth and cut branches and sod with the sharpened hoe edge. Designed in 1905 by Malcolm McLeod, a US Forest Service ranger at the Sierra National Forest, unlike the fire rake, the teeth of the Rakehoe are narrow and are often sharpened.
The fire axe is probably the most famous of wildfire tools. The two main types of axe heads are the pick heads and the flat heads. For wildfire suppression, the preferable one of these two is the pick head, because it can function as a small rake or can be used to hook branches or foliage on the ground. The main part of an axe is the blade, which is a very versatile tool. It can be used to cut down material in the path of a fire, to help build a firebreak, or even to clear the way for large vehicles such as bulldozers or fire trucks to come through.
The Firechief Long Firefighter’s Axe is a versatile and heavy-duty Pulaski axe with handle. Able to both dig soil and chop wood, it is typically used to construct firebreaks. Pulaski axes are versatile and heavy-duty tools used in wildland firefighting and were invented by a Forest Service ranger after battling and surviving a devastating wildfire.
Fire Depot stocks a range of Wildfire and other fire fighting equipment. As the UK's favourite fire safety supplier for over 50 years, we know the fire protection and prevention business inside out. Our experienced team can offer advice and guidance about any product or fire safety application. For expert help and advice, please contact the Fire Depot team on 0330 999 2233, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.firedepot.co.uk to see our full range of fire safety products.