Ignore the guideline that say fires in these areas can be extinguished if they are of human origin (if making that distinction is even possible in the midst of an inferno) – but must be allowed to burn if they are “natural” (caused by lightning, for example), even amid droughts, in the hope that they won’t become raging infernos that threaten homes. Disregard the crazy jurisdictional disputes that prevent aircraft from dropping water on a fire, because the crew cannot tell whether the blaze is on Bureau of Land Management or Forest Service land.
Once a fire erupts, there is no reason it should devastate homes, suburban developments or vast forest areas. The technology exists to stop these fires, long before they reach such intensities and proportions.
Two days before Waldo Canyon burst into flames, a revolutionary fire suppressant stopped a 300-acre fire north of Albuquerque, New Mexico almost in its tracks. Just nine single-engine planeloads of FireIce (about 7,200 gallons) were needed to douse the flames, prevent nearby trees and homes from igniting, and insure that the fire remained permanently extinguished.
Dutch Snyder, the independent 27-year veteran fire-fighting pilot whose airplane handled this successful mission, remarked afterward that he had “never seen a retardant hold a fire line” so well, or “any product knock down a fire so quickly.”
According to its inventor, GelTech Solutions chief technology officer Peter Cordani, FireIce smothers fires, by taking heat and oxygen away from combustible materials. It can be dropped directly onto a fire, penetrating through to burning trees and brush – rather than just being dropped far from flames, in often futile efforts to create fire breaks that hold.
As many news outlets, like Fox 21 KXRM-TV in Colorado Springs, have documented in recent years (visit the GelTech website for video clips), this product can be dropped by plane to suppress wildfire intensity, or sprayed by homeowners on houses and landscaping to protect them from heat and flames. Even a 2,000-degree F blowtorch cannot ignite a wood board (or burn a human hand) coated in FireIce.
The product is non-toxic, non-corrosive and environment-friendly, Cordani says in the news stories. It’s been tested, certified and approved by the US Forest Service, which has FireIce and GelTech on its “qualified products list” of fire-battling chemicals and professionals. The company maintains its own state-of-the-art mixing equipment and is ready at a moment’s notice to assist aerial and ground fire-fighting operations anywhere in the USA. It can fill trucks and airplanes of any size, including 3,000-gallon Air Force C-130s and even 10,000-gallon DC-10 supertankers.
Duly impressed, I called the company to ask what role it was playing in fighting the Colorado blazes and why its technology apparently was not working. The answer shocked me. It had not been asked to help!
Despite all the news stories about FireIce, its certification by the USFS, and frequent communications between GelTech and federal, state and local officials – no one had contacted the company.
How is that possible? What will it take to persuade officials to break from traditional (and obviously inadequate) wildfire tactics and retardants, and use FireIce to combat what Colorado Springs Fire Chief Rich Brown called fires of “epic proportions” – to protect homes, habitats, wildlife and human lives?
New Mexico has now used FireIce with great success against several forest fires. With a long fire season still ahead, perhaps US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell, Rocky Mountain Regional Forester Dan Jiron, Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, Fort Collins and Colorado Springs Mayors Karen Weithunat and Steve Bach will now follow the example set by Governor Susana Martinez and her colleagues in the Land of Enchantment.
If they do not, responsible legislators and environmentalists should find out why – so that tragedies like these Colorado fires never happen again.
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