Protect your home from a sudden wildfire with FireIce - fast and easy protection

by Admin 12. May 2014 05:48

Wildfires are an unpredictable phenomenon that a large percentage of homeowners could face sometime in their lifetime. In many instances homeowners have little or no time to prepare their personal items or property so it is imperative they have a plan in place. To protect yourself from a wildfire you must first analyze the potential risks within your local area and what ways you can protect your property.

Wildfires are caused by a host of factors including manmade and natural with the majority coming from lightning strikes and accidental manmade fires. Homeowners who live in or around natural woodlands are the highest risk factor, but area on the edge of suburbia are at risk as well. Wild fires don’t know boundaries and will spread wherever there is fuel and the wind pushes it.   Weather patterns make wildfires so unpredictable that they can change course several times an hour leaving homeowner will little time to react.

There are steps homeowners can take to be prepared if they are faced with sudden wild fire risk. Assess the fuel available for fires on and near your property and work to reduce it as much as possible. Create a fire break on the edge of your property with a non-fuel material such as rocks or dirt. Having your property in prepared condition allows you more time for other measures such as applying a fire retardant to your structure.  Protect your home from wildfire with FireIce a flame retardant that is easily applied to your home within a short time period and ideal for sudden fire risks. FireIce, a product that when mixed with water creates a fire retardant gel is quickly applied to all vulnerable surfaces. A homeowner can leave with confidence that their preparation and fire retardant gives them the best chance at avoiding a loss.

If you would like more information on products that could save your house from a wildfire, please contact us.

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Protect home from wildfire with FireIce - Wildland Urban Threat

by Admin 22. April 2014 06:12

The new home market over the last two decades has turned to new outlying areas for building locations to take advantage of the privacy and scenery. These wildland-urban areas, as they are referred to by fire professionals, have a significantly increased fire threat. The threat not only comes from direct fire, but from wind-carried embers.

According to Ready, Set, Go!, a national fire prevention program managed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Wildland Urban Interface fire threat is steep due to continued development and exposure. These areas are found throughout the country and are not recognized by how they look, but by the conditions they contain. A wildland urban interface is often where cities meet rural areas which are typically state or federally owned lands. These areas contain multiple fuel sources for wildfires, such as dead trees and decaying materials that are not typically managed properly.

Homeowners in these areas are at an elevated risk due to the wildfire threat in the landscape adjacent to their home. Many of these areas prohibit landowners from altering the this land because of state and federal land use restrictions. Homes within these areas are typically damaged by the wind-blown embers from nearby fires. These embers can ignite the structure or local area on fire, which then reach the home.  Homeowners can protect their home from wildfire with FireIce; when applied, it protects structures such as home and outbuildings from embers. When mixed with water, FireIce creates a gel that adheres to almost any surface--creating a fire-retardant barrier. This is critical in preventing the wind-blown embers from igniting flammable, exposed surfaces such as roofing, siding and deck materials.

If you would like more information on products to protect your home from wildfire, please contact us.

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Protect your home from wildfire with FireIce - Be ready for fire season!

by Admin 17. March 2014 05:58

Wildfires have become a common addition to most news outlets over the past few years as the frequency of these disasters continue to increase. According to a recent article by USA Today “Western lawmakers push legislation to prevent wildfires” wildfires in the last decade have burned more land than the previous four combined. This increased threat means all homeowners in fire threat areas need to be prepared.

Western legislators are rallying to change the way designated fire suppression funds are used. In recent years, large fires or “mega-fires”, eat a large percentage of this budget which is meant for forest maintenance to reduce the risk of fires.  As more and more of this budget gets used for fighting fires the more forests are becoming even more at-risk of a fire. This poses a great risk for homeowners, especially those at the edge of the wilderness.

Homeowners need to have a fire plan, perform property fire prevention maintenance and have fire protection products on-hand to fully protect their property from being decimated from a fire. It is critical that homeowners and families have a plan in place so they can evacuate quickly. Preventative maintenance on landscaping and all structures such as preventing debris buildup, removing dead branches from trees and creating a fire buffer greatly reduces the spread of fire. An often overlooked piece of the puzzle is a flame retardant product to protect structures in case fire does reach them. Protecting your home from wildfire with FireIce by Geltech is an ideal solution that can be quickly applied to your home before you evacuate. The flame retardant gel creates a fire-proof barrier on your home that can withstand the high temperatures of a wildfire. If you would like more information on products to help save your home in case of a wild fire, please contact us.

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FireIce Academy - Hydrants

by Admin 28. September 2012 10:15

One of the tasks assigned to your fire company is the annual inspection of fire hydrants in your district. All the hydrants that you have tested are dry-barrel hydrants. You replace all the hydrant caps except one. As you are closing the stem on one hydrant, you shut it completely, open it a quarter turn, and place the palm of your hand over an open discharge. You feel a slight suction on your hand. You close the hydrant stem completely, replace the discharge cap, and complete the inspection.
What is the purpose of dry-barrel hydrants?
Answer: Dry-barrel hydrants are used in areas that experience prolonged periods of subfreezing weather. The control valve is located below the frost line underground and prevents water from entering the hydrant barrel and freezing, making the hydrant inoperable.
What causes the slight suction on your hand?
Answer: It is an indication that the water is draining out of the dry barrel through the drain hole at the bottom of the hydrant.
What conditions should you look for during a hydrant inspection?
Among the items listed in the text, you should inspect the hydrants for:
Obstructions, such as sign posts, utility poles, weeds, bushes, or fences that might interfere with pumper-to-hydrant connections or with opening the hydrant valve.
Outlets that face the wrong direction for pumper-to-hydrant connections.
Insufficient clearance between outlets and the ground.
Damage to the hydrant.
Rusting or corrosion.
Outlet caps missing or stuck in place with paint.
Stem nut that cannot be turned or turns feely with no visible result.
Obstructions (bottles, cans, rocks) inside the hydrant outlets.
Damp ground surrounding the hydrant or erosion indicating a drain valve leak.
Hydrants painted by property owners (caps adhered to threads by paint).

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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FireIce Academy - Search and Rescue

by Admin 14. September 2012 08:25

Your company responds to a fire in a one story, single family residential structure. It is a ranch style structure. The time is 6:00 am on a Sunday morning. While responding, you hear the first arriving officer report that there is fire coming from a bedroom window on the B-C corner of the house with smoke also coming from the open front door.
When you arrive, the incident commander directs your officer to perform a primary search of the structure. Other companies have been directed to ventilate the structure and to do an interior attack on the fire.
What other operations, if any, must be coordinated with your primary search?
Answer: There are several other operations that must be conducted nearly simultaneously with the beginning of the primary search. Of course, it may be necessary to force entry into the structure. In this case it appears the front door is open and that is the most appropriate point to enter the structure. Also, ventilation must occur prior to entering the structure to reduce the heat and improve visibility. Finally, fire attack will also begin immediately following ventilation. Your search team may actually follow the attack team into the structure.
What fire conditions can be expected inside the structure?
Answer: It is apparent from the conditions observed outside of the structure that at least the bedroom is involved in fire. Smoke is moving throughout the structure as evidenced by the smoke coming from the open front door. The quantity of fire and smoke indicates that the fire is intense which means it is going to be hot. Also, the fire may have extended to other rooms and areas. In this type of scenario it is crucial that you maintain situational awareness - both individually and as a team. Even after ventilation has been completed fire conditions may remain extreme until the fire is extinguished. Flashover may be possible in other rooms until the hot smoke and gases have been ventilated and the fire is extinguished.
How should the primary search be conducted?
Answer: The primary search is a rapid but thorough search of the house. The search should begin in an area most likely to have someone needing rescue. At this time of day that would be the bedroom area. The search would start with the bedrooms closest to the room of origin and then work away from the fire area. If the fire is controlled quickly, the primary search may actually begin in that room. During the search common hiding places should be checked. As a room is searched the door should be marked indicating the primary search has been completed. When the primary search has been completed the officer will give an 'All Clear' to the incident commander.

 

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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FireIce Q& A - Positive Pressure Ventilation(PPV)

by Admin 9. August 2012 08:12

Hey FireIce Bloggers!  Check out todays question and answer below:

PPV FanDescribe this operation. How must the blower be placed at the open entry point?

ANSWER:

Positive Pressure Ventilation or PPV is defined as: “A method of ventilating a confined space by mechanically blowing fresh air into the space in sufficient volume to create a slight positive pressure within and thereby forcing the contaminated out the exit opening”.PPV Procedures

The fan or blower is placed 4’ to 10’ from the entry point you must ensure the fan cone completely covers the entry point. An exit point MUST be created opposite the entry point to push the smoke out of the exit opening.  This exit opening should be the same size or slightly smaller than the entry opening.  The entire goal is to create postive pressure an it is important that no other exterior doors or windows are opened during this operation.

Once the structure is stabilized you can open and close interior doors and exterior windows to pressurize one area at a time. Opening and closing interior doors at the proper time can accelerate the removal from heat and smoke. Also removing cold smoke from a building after the fire is extinguished is achieved by placing a negative pressure fan at the exit opening. Source: Chapter 11 Ventilation, Essentials of Fire Fighting 5th Edition. (See Illustrations)

If deployed properly PPV can prove to be a useful tool on the fire ground Proper Training and Practice on this operation is essential to ensure “Everyone Goes Home”. Stay Safe!
By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

Everyone Goes Home

by Admin 25. July 2012 07:31

Hey FireIce Blog Readers!! It appears this past month has been busy for many departments around the world and with that being said the LODD list grew as did firefighter injuries… Our job is hard enough and we take many risks, but most injuries are preventable!

Make everyday a training day So Everyone Goes Home… Stay Safe!

 

By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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FireIce Academy is back in session...

by Admin 20. July 2012 06:33

Hey FireIceBloggers!! FireIce Academy is back in session...



You have responded to a fire in a single family dwelling. Upon arrival your company officer orders your hose team to don full PPE and advance a 1 3/4 inch attack line to the front door. The door is open and you can see the fire at the back of the living room. The smoke that is rolling out of the doorway is black and the heat is intense at the opening.

What method of attack, direct, indirect, or combination, do you use?

Answer: The combination attack uses the fog nozzle to its best advantages.

What are the advantages of this method?

Answer: The wide fog pattern cools the room and provides protection to the nozzle operator.

Why did you select this method?

Answer: The fog nozzle also creates small water droplets that absorb the heat and generates steam to smother the fire. The straight stream can penetrate the burning combustibles from a distance and complete the extinguishment process.

Stay Safe!


By Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

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Wildfires and What’s Being Done? (Part III)

by Admin 13. July 2012 08:03
(A segmented look at Firefighting, Fire Extinguishing Products, and Fire Suppression)

We’ve looked at firefighting foams and now we’ll look into long term retardants and What’s Being Done…
What are long term retardants?
Quite simply it’s the red stuff dropping from aircraft across the world on wildfires! So let’s look at the technical side of Long Term Retardants…
A fire retardant is a substance other than water that reduces flammability of fuels or delays their combustion. This typically refers to chemical retardants but may also include substances that work by physical action, such as cooling the fuels or by initiating a chemical reaction that stops a fire.
Early fire retardants were mixtures of water and thickening agents, and later included borates and ammonium phosphates. Borates are chemical compounds which contain oxoanions of boron in an oxidation state and ammonium phosphate is salt of ammonia and phosphoric acid. Today’s long term retardants are comprised of Diammonium Sulfate, Monoammonium Phosphate, Diammonium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Hydroxypropyl, and Performance Enhancers of Diammonium Sulfate is a synonym for Ammonium Sulfate and other synonyms are Sulfuric Acid, Diammonium Salt, Actamaster, Dolamin, and Mascagnite. Ammonium Sulfates are an inorganic salts which is part of soil fertilizers and its purpose is to reduce the soil pH.
Monoammonium Phosphates is an ammonium dihydrogen phosphate and is formed when in a solution of phosphoric acid is added to ammonia until the solution is distinctly acidic. Monoammonium phosphate is often used in the blending of dry agricultural fertilizers and it supplies soil with the elements nitrogen and phosphorus which is usable by plants. The compound is also a component of the ABC powder in some dry chemical fire extinguishers. This substance is also supplied in an emerald green or aquamarine crystal growing box kit for kids.
Diammonium Phosphate is used as a fertilizer and when applied as plant food, it temporarily increases the soil pH.
Guar Gum, Hydroxypropyl is an inert ingredient used as a thickener. Its common characteristic is that it’s a water absorbing polymer.
Ok that sounds pretty technical and that’s what’s in the red stuff...  What are its effects on the environment?
Well according to the manufacturer they say it’s…
“Long-term retardants are the safest, most effective, and environmentally friendly retardants available. No other products meet the current USDA Forest Service specification for long-term retardant. This specification includes product qualification testing for combustion retarding effectiveness, environmental, safety and health and corrosion standards.”
Ok so the manufacturer states that its product is the safest, most effective, and environmentally friendly and no other product meets the US Forest Service Specification. Hmmmm lets have a look at that…
According to the USFS Qualified Products List they are correct! There are no other companies listed on the QPL with a product that is classified as a long term retardant… So they are a sole source provider to the Federal Government...
So how effective are long term retardants?
There are no public records with the US Forest Service for Lateral Ignition Flamespread Test or Combustion Retarding Effectiveness. So the answers are unknown to the public...
Let’s recap what we have learned so far. Chemical composition is very salty with fertilizer salts. Here is a breakdown according to the MSDS sheet listed with the US Forest Service.
 Components:                 
Diammonium Sulfate, CAS #7783-20-2 = >65%
Monoammonium Phosphate, CAS #7722-76-1 = >15%   
Diammonium Phosphate, CAS#7783-28-0 = >5%
Guar Gum, Hydroxypropyl, CAS#39421-75-5 = Performance Additives, CAS# Trade Secret = The trade secret performance additives are protected by “trade secret” but the manufacturer states “Our wildland fire retardants consist of fertilizer type salts, a coloring agent, corrosion inhibitors, and flow conditioners.”
Ok so there are corrosion inhibitors in the red stuff well what are they?
In an environmental assessment of long term retardants dated October 2007 conducted by the US Forest Service it states ” Previous retardant formulas contained sodium ferrocyanide 2 as a corrosion inhibitor. It was found that under certain conditions, sodium ferrocyanide poses greater toxicity to aquatic species and aquatic environments than retardant solutions without this agent.” While we cannot confirm what corrosion inhibitors are currently being used today in the current formulas because they are a “trade secret”. One can only assume that they have not improved since 2007 and here is why…
In July 2010 a Montana Federal Court Judge the Honorable Donald Malloy “ordered the U.S. Forest Service to take a hard look at its use of toxic aerial fire retardants and their impact on fish and wildlife habitats.”
Ok so that blows the claim by the sole supplier to the Federal Government that they are the “safest, most effective, and environmentally friendly retardants available.”
Hmmm, no testing results available on effectiveness. So the “safest, most effective, and environmentally friendly retardants available” on the market today?
Not so much according to the environmental watchdog groups who filed a federal lawsuit and not according to a federal judge.
So What’s Being Done?
“Molloy ordered the Forest Service to comply with the federal laws by Dec. 31, 2011, threatening contempt sanctions if the agency fails to do so.”

"The Federal Defendants are advised that failure to comply with this deadline may subject them to sanctions, including contempt proceedings, and could conceivably result in enjoining the continued use of aerially-applied fire retardant until the law enacted by Congress is complied with," Molloy wrote. "The issue requires immediate attention."  

That was July 2010 and in December 2010 headlines are;

 “U.S. District Judge Donald Molloy of Missoula” announced “that he will be taking senior status in August 2011.”

Coincidence??? Guess we will have to wait and see…

So who is the manufacturer of the sole provider of products used by the Federal Government to retard and combat wildfires?

They are called Phos-Chek and the Phos-Chek Fire Safety Group is part of ICL Performance Products LP, North America's premier phosphate chemical manufacturer.

So who is ICL?

“ICL Performance Products LP is a worldwide leader in the manufacturing and marketing of phosphates, phosphoric acid, and phosphorus chemicals.”

Since it is a Limited Partnership company is there a bigger picture or group?

“ICL Performance Products LP, headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri, is a wholly owned subsidiary of Israel Chemicals Limited (ICL), based in Tel Aviv, Israel. ICL is engaged in the development, manufacture and marketing of fertilizers, industrial products, metallurgy, and performance products.”
So during this segment we discussed long term retardants and the jury is still out on them. We have also looked at firefighting foams more commonly known as Class “A” foam used for fire suppression. In the next segment we will look at fire gels or water enhancers and how they affect firefighting equipment, the environment and the effectiveness for fire suppression or exposure protection.

By: Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer

Wildfires and What’s Being Done? (Part II)

by Admin 2. July 2012 05:48

(A segmented look at Firefighting, Fire Extinguishing Products, and Fire Suppression)

In the last segment we touched on some of the things that are being done by the local, state, and federal agencies to reduce the threat of wildfires in the wildland urban interface. In this segment we’ll look at fire extinguishing products and their effectiveness.

It appears that wildfires have become a pandemic and we have all seen the news clips of airplanes and helicopters dropping some sort of liquid on a fire…
But what is that liquid?
Some of it may be clear, some of it appears to be bubbly, and some of it may be red or blue. More often than not they are fire extinguishing products and some have been around for close to 100 years to aid firefighting efforts and help to firefighters with fire suppression. So let’s look at these fire extinguishing products and how well do they work for fire suppression.
Firefighting foams are the chemicals that have been around longest ever since the early 1900’s and developed by a Russian Chemist named Alexsandr Loran. Originally firefighting foams were designed to combat flammable or combustible liquid fires. It wasn’t until the 1980’s when the foam manufacturers came up with the idea of making a formulation to be used on wildland fires which has evolved into Class “A” foam.
So what are firefighting foams or class “A” foams?
The chemical composition of these fire extinguishing products vary from manufacturer to manufacturer but all contain some sort of surfactant. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension of liquid (usually water). Surfactants are usually organic compounds which are carbon-containing compounds such as carbides, carbonates, simple oxides of carbon and cyanides. Other components of firefighting foams are organic solvents such as trimethyltrimethylene glycol and hexylene glycol, foam stabilizers such as lauryl alcohol, and corrosion inhibitors.
Now that we have your attention of what’s in firefighting foams! Let’s look at their effects on the environment…
The US Forest Service QPL (Qualified Products List) specifies a mix ratio of 0.1 to 1.0 % foam concentrate to water and clearly states that they must be mixed within that ratio to comply with their specifications. Now on the other hand firefighters are taught in the Fire Academy to mix firefighting foam at a ratio of 3 gallons of foam concentrate mixed with 97 gallons of water to get an end product of 3% foam. Hmmm the US forest Service says a maximum of 1%... Why?? Let’s look at toxicity on mammals and fish…
Acute Oral Toxicity Mammals (Foam Concentrate):
Phos Chek WD 881 = 4378 LD₅₀ (mg/Kg) it also is moderately irritating to non washed and washed eyes, and has a 0.9 primary irritation index for skin irritation.
Phos Chek WD 881-C = >5050 LD₅₀ (mg/Kg) it is also moderately irritating to non washed and washed eyes and has a 1.4 primary irritation index for skin irritation.
Tyco Silv-Ex = >5050 LD₅₀ (mg/Kg) it is also severely irritating to non washed and washed eyes and has a 2.7 primary irritation index for skin irritation.
National Foam KnockDown = >5000 LD₅₀ (mg/Kg) it is also moderately irritating to non washed eyes and mildly irritating to washed eyes and has a 1.2 primary irritation index for skin irritation.
**Note** The lower the Lethal Dosage value (LD₅₀) is - the more toxic it is.

Fish Toxicity (Foam Concentrate):
Phos Chek WD 881 = LC₅₀ 11 mg/L soft water and 10 mg/L hard water.
Phos Chek WD 881-C = LC₅₀ 17mg/L soft water and 10mg/L hard water.
Tyco Silv-Ex = LC₅₀ 46mg/L soft water and 28mg/L hard water.
National Foam KnockDown = 28mg/L soft water and 26mg/L hard water.
**Note** The lower the Lethal Concentration value (LC₅₀) is - the more toxic it is.
Let’s look at what firefighting foams do to fire equipment? We already established that firefighting foams contain corrosion inhibitors. Corrosion inhibitors are a chemical compound that decreases the corrosion rates of a material, typically a metal or an alloy. Corrosion tests are designed to measure the loss of structural integrity of the affected metal and potential loss of the metal item. Significant corrosion in fire pumps or aircraft may have catastrophic effects to human life. Corrosion testing is based on mils-per- year and the US Forest Service is looking to minimize the risk of corrosion- caused fire equipment failure in the field. The benchmark is less than (Uniform Corrosion Partial Submersion at 120˚F (Foam Concentrate):
Phos Chek WD 881 = 0.1 Aluminum, 1.9 Steel, and 0.5 Yellow Brass.
Phos Chek WD 881-C = 0.9 Aluminum, 4.7 Steel, and 0.7 Yellow Brass
Tyco Silv-Ex = 0.1 Aluminum, 4.9 Steel, and 3.5 Yellow Brass
National Foam KnockDown = 0.4 Aluminum, 1.1 Steel, and 0.1 Yellow Brass
While all of these firefighting foams comply with the US Forest Service Specifications it should be noted that the above testing results is public record and are published on the US Forest Service’s website.
How effective are firefighting foams in aiding firefighters in fire suppression or fire extinguishment?
Simply it last for seconds compared to water!!
Here are the test results from the US Forest Service QPL list.
Lateral Ignition Flamespread Test (LIFT)
Phos Chek WD 881 = 211 seconds compared to Water = 112 seconds
Phos Chek WD 881-C = 255 seconds compared to Water = 124 seconds
Tyco Silv-Ex = 139 seconds compared to Water = 128 seconds
National Foam KnockDown = 225 seconds compared to Water = 116 seconds
Basically what we have learned from this segment is that firefighting foam is corrosive to firefighting equipment, it’s not that great for the environment, and it’s not very effective compared to water.
So stop wasting the taxpayer’s money!
On a side note National Foam as well as AFG Firewall, Kidde, and Ansul are all owned by Tyco. In the next segment we will look at Long Term Retardants the red stuff being dumped from airplanes and helicopters…  

By: Rob Rosovich, Fire Protection Engineer