It's time to rethink firefighting
In 2018, there were more than 58,000 forest fires in the US alone; and in the past decade, they consumed more than $5 billion in personal property.
Lighter-than-Air technology has the capacity to eliminate the inferno by bringing greater resources to the fight and deploying them with greater accuracy.
When a fire begins, there's only a short period available before it morphs into a raging inferno. During this period, firefighting efforts are at the mercy of the weather as shifting winds can greatly intensify the blaze.
The Great Fires of 1871
The worst in US history in terms of lives lost were the Great Fires of 1871, in which four large fires broke out simultaneously in the Upper Midwest ultimately claiming more than 1,500 lives.
The Great Fire of 1910
The “Big Burn” of 1910 is believed to have been the largest in US history, as it destroyed over 3 million acres in Idaho.
In the last decade, forest fires have caused more than $5 billion in personal property damage.
Once a fire grows beyond the point of control, the only hope of containment is the denial of fuel.
This is accomplished by cutting a fire break in front of the main fire, and performing a controlled burn between the break and the existing fire - essentially expanding the fire break. Weather conditions permitting, the wind will drive the main fire into this area which results in the fire burning itself out.
In other words, the fire fighters are forced to destroy property in order to stop the fire and save property.
Granite Mountain Hotshots
In memory of the 19 brave men who lost their lives fighting the Yarnell Hill Fire in Prescott, Arizona on June 30, 2013.
This great sacrifice reignited the controversy surrounding the availability of large air tankers,
the aircraft used in the deployment of fire-retardant agents.
Andrew Ashcraft, 29; Robert Caldwell, 23; Travis Carter, 31; Dustin DeFord, 24; Christopher MacKenzie, 30; Eric Marsh, 43; Grant McKee, 21; Sean Misner, 26; Scott Norris, 28; Wade Parker, 22; John Percin, Jr., 24; Anthony Rose, 23; Jesse Steed, 36; Joe Thurston, 32; Travis Turbyfill, 27; William Warneke, 25; Clayton Whitted, 28; Kevin Woyjeck, 21; Garret Zuppiger, 27
In these slides, are the various types of aircraft used in the war on fire.
The largest being the Boeing 747-400 Supertanker, capable of carrying up to 19,000 gallons of retardant.
As previously noted in the History Channel video, their primary purpose is not to extinguish the fire, but to aid the ground crews with establishing effective fire lines in an attempt to contain the raging inferno.
LTA's Impact on the fight
Now that you understand the basics of battling large fires, imagine being able to bring more resources to the fight, and the capability to more accurately deploy those resources while holding a fixed position.
With this functionality, you could apply an extinguishing agent directly to the heart of the fire.
Taking it a step further, if you arrived while the fire was still in its infancy, you could halt its growth long before it had a chance to morph into an inferno.
How would that benefit the firefighting community, the state’s local economy or the personal property owner?
- Fewer lives impacted
- Less property damage
- Lower insurance rates
- The conservation of natural habitats
- Fewer tax dollars spent fighting fires and cleaning up the aftermath
- The list is virtually limitless….
Lighter-than-Air technology has the capability to bring greater resources to the fight, deploy them more accurately, and provide better air support for the firefighter; all this while simultaneously saving tax dollars, reducing insurance costs and protecting personal property from harm.