As a scorching heatwave hits, with it brings droughts, health warnings and also wildfires, with temperatures set to intensify, rising into the high 40s in the coming days.
Thousands of firefighters have been tackling the blazes in Portugal, Spain, France and North Yorkshire. More that 20 blazes were battled on Wednesday across Portugal and Western Spain, threatening villages and disrupting tourists’ holidays during heatwave that is pushing temperatures about 45 degrees Celsius in some parts of Europe.
The extreme hot weather conditions that everywhere is facing currently, combined with strong winds and dead, dry vegetation which has built up over the winter period has created conditions for wildfires which are incredibly difficult to fight and control.
It is important as the weather and temperatures continue to rise, the public ensures they are not putting green spaces and natural habitats at risk. This doesn’t mean don’t enjoy the warm weather but just taking simple measures will help prevent wildfires from occurring.
The right tools for the job
Because of the differences between firefighting wildfires and fire fighting in other types of environments, 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 member of a fire crew 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 the video on our YouTube Channel here.
A fire rake is a wildfire firefighting 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 fake fire lines with the teeth and cut branches ad 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 often sharpened.
The fire axe is probably the most famous of the 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 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 Pulsaki 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 wildfire firefighting and were invented by a Forest Service ranger after battling and surviving a devastating wildfire.
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The information contained within this blog is provided solely for general informational and educational purposes and is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Before taking any actions based upon this information, we advise the reader to consult any and all relevant statutory or regulatory guidance and where felt necessary to consult a qualified fire or industry regulation professional. The use or reliance on any information contained herein is solely at the reader’s risk.