Skip to comments.Lawsuit May End Fire Retardant Use After 2011
Posted on 09/14/2010 11:44:36 AM PDT by MissTed
The fire retardant dropped from air tankers to prevent wildfires from spreading may no longer be an option after 2011.
As many as nine air tankers have dropped retardant -- a mixture of water, fertilizer and red dye -- on both the Fourmile Canyon Fire in Boulder County and the Reservoir Road Fire in Larimer County. The retardant is used to build a perimeter around a fire and is not dropped directly on the flames to put out the fire.
"It's not an extinguishment, it's a retardant. It's basically there to slow down and help the ground crews 100 percent," said David Stickler, a pilot for one of the lead planes that guides and acts as a lookout for an air tanker. "You want to stop it so when the fire's coming up towards the house, it's going to slow down at that point and let the ground firefighters get in there and knock it down the rest of the way." Quantcast
A federal lawsuit filed in 2003 and another in 2008 by the Forest Service Employees for Environmental Ethics calls into question the use of fire retardant. The lawsuit suggests the mixture jeopardizes fish, plants and other habitats.
"They basically haven't made a retardant that can put out a fire completely without harming the environment," said Stickler.
Stickler told 7NEWS that retardant can be harmful to certain fish, but that retardant is not dropped within 300 feet of a water source unless an incident commander feels lives or property are at risk.
"For very, very, very small fish like minnows, that type of thing, you'll see that once it does get exposed to sunlight, those type of small fish, where they don't have the strength to defend, will actually start to perish at that point," said Stickler.
7NEWS asked if that's reason enough to stop using retardant.
"Actually, I've seen where you're getting more damage from ash going into the rivers than from the retardant going into the rivers," said Stickler. "We'll go out there a year afterwards and you'll see that the grass is really green there."
A federal judge has given the U.S. Forest Service until the end of 2011 to complete environmental studies on the impact of fire retardant, as well as coming up with alternatives to retardant. Otherwise, the use of fire retardant could end.
"Then we would be dropping (water) right on the fire, (which) is a completely different strategy. It's better to make it so we can have the fire come up to it and go out on its own," said Stickler. "We have used water drops in a lot of places -- then we can go direct on the hits and stuff like that -- but the effectiveness of that, with a large fire like (Fourmile Canyon and Reservoir Road, are) very ineffective."
Air Tankers Aren't Based In Any One Area
There are 17 air tankers available nationwide to the U.S. Forest Service to drop fire retardant.
When the Fourmile Canyon fire was reported on the morning of Sept. 6, air tankers didn't arrive in Colorado to drop retardant on the fire until the late afternoon. The Reservoir Road Fire was reported Sunday morning, and within two hours, tankers that had been in Colorado for the Boulder County wildfire were dropping retardant on the fire in Loveland.
"It was unbelievably lucky for the people in Loveland that these aircraft were here," said Rita Baysinger, public information officer with the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center.
"This definitely was a best-case scenario," Baysinger added. "There are just not enough tankers that any one area can just say, 'Well, we want to keep them all for ourselves.'"
Idiots on parade. I suppose the fire is of no concern to these dolts as to the jeopardy to the same?
Gee, let’s let nature take its course and do nothing to put out forest fires. These environmental idiots who are complaining about the fire retardant are likely also having a cow about CO2 levels. What is the carbon footprint of a forest fire, particularly one that goes unchecked? Water leaching through wood ashes makes lye ...that was how lye for soap was made back in the day ...so wouldn’t the runoff from a forest reduced to ashes be rather toxic? Environmental idiocy knows no limit.
(1950's) Let's screw women for virginity.
(1960's) Let's kill the town to save it.
(2010's) Let's hamper wildfire fighting to save the habitat.
Enviro-Nazis in charge. They would prefer the fire burn rather that stop “nature taking its course.” Idiots.
All that filthy water runoff from forest fires must be a terrible pollutant.
I propose they ban fire fighting altogether!
guess we should airdrop lawyers over forest fires instead?
I guess these morons have never seen what happens to fish in an ash choked trout stream.
That is already happening. Got one going here in the Sierra that has been burning all Summer. What is also concerning is FEDERAL EMPLOYEES forming eviro groups to stop the Forest Service from using fire retardant.
Let's start by dropping god-wannabe federal judges on the fires, and finish up with the bottom feeding lawyers. We have enough of both to put out any fire.
Creation worship ping!
One of the best ideas for fighting wildfires sounds improbable, but makes a lot of sense: a firefighting airship.
One company in California was developing such an airship, along with other types of airships, and was about to build a prototype when the company went bust.
Such an airship has numerous advantages over fixed wing aircraft and helicopters in firefighting. To start with, they have a substantially better cargo lift ability. And because they can maintain their position in the air relative to the fire, they don’t have to dump it all at once, but can “rain” on the fire for quite a while, which is a very efficient means at fire control.
While some very hot fires can produce a “heat column” in the air above the fire, these are relatively stationary, going straight up, and can be easily seen with a common infrared camera. In such a case, the airship could just descend a wire directed hose to spray on the fire indirectly, and avoid the heat column.
Airships of this type can normally cruise at from 30-40mph, with a fan engine assist, like the Goodyear blimp. Likewise, to refill their tank, they could land on a lake or other body of water, such as a water tank, unlike the time consuming refill process for an aircraft or helicopter.
The changes of load needing different amounts of helium in the airship can be controlled with a compressor and storage tanks.
While such a system would not replace fixed wing aircraft and helicopters in firefighting, they could do much for reducing the devastating, multi-billion dollar damage caused by wildfires in the western United States every year.