Comparison Discussion

Page 8 of 12

Water enhancers. CF is the only non-gel water enhancer on the QPL. All others are a very viscous gel formulation. Some come in the form of a powder and need to be mixed with water-a tedious task. The development of the gel was primarily intended as a temporary structure protection for advancing wildland fires. Experiences from many state officials indicate that the gel is not living up to its original expectations and causing many problems in the field, such as clogging up equipment. Gels are very slippery. It has been observed that they can cause detrimental effects on painted surfaces, shingles and related structural materials. The gels, like CF, improve the ability of water to cling to vertical and smooth surfaces.

The FS has issued a precautionary “measure” about the water enhancers as follows:

  • When batch mixing is used, all equipment coming into contact with the water enhancers should be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each work day.
  • Some of these products contain ingredients that may reduce the effectiveness of other products.
  • Ingredients in some products promote rapid bacterial or mold growths in a water solution.
  • These products may build up a layer of material that resists removal from mixing and application equipment when cleaning with plain water.

Not so for COLD FIRE®

Class A foams. Now very popular and widely used. Twenty­ five years ago, foam was a “hard-sell.” Although they are on the QPL their use is restricted in that special personnel protective gear needs to be used. They can be irritating to eyes and skin. Foam concentrates typically consist of three major components: a foaming agent, a stabilizer and a surfactant. Foams are thick masses of gas bubbles and water that are used to blanket and smother the fire. Some are corrosive to metals, speed deterioration of sealing materials, and are harmful to the environment in high concentrations. Most post-field operations require the equipment to be flushed with clean water to remove the foam residuals. Care must be taken to prevent cross mixing of various manufacturers products in one system. Foam concentrates exhibit considerable variations in viscosity as a function of temperature. (In the case of the five Class B foams there is the hazard of selecting the wrong one, generating a far greater and more hazardous vapor cloud).

Fire Retardants. A substance that, by chemical or physical action, reduces or slows combustion, thus “retarding” the rate of spread of the flame front. They consist of a mix of water, several chemicals and a coloring agent. The main chemical ingredient is a fertilizer. They are most effective when applied in front of the flame front, not directly on it. So-called long- term retardants contain chemicals, which continue to retard fire even after the water has evaporated.

Forest Service Wildfire Management Policy. The common opinion concerning a forest fire is to allow it to burn and consume the residual fuel on the forest floor and in the underbrush. Experience has shown the forest has a remarkable recovery from such “destruction.” Prescribed burns are common to reduce the fuel on certain terrains. However, when advancing fires pose a threat to structures, preserves or people, then the policy is to “control” the fire in a manageable direction or limitation.

COLD FIRE® can be used to accomplish these desires.

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