So far close to 6 million acres of land have burned in over 45,000 wildfires across the United States throughout 2021. One of the tools firefighters use to suppress wildfires is fire retardant.
What is fire retardant? It is a chemical that reduces the spread of flames. It comes in many forms. It can be dropped by airplanes called air tankers onto an active fire, or to pre-treat fuels.
It also can be applied as a coating to clothes and other fire gear. If you are an emergency responder or are simply curious, read on to find out more about this versatile substance.
What Is Fire Retardant Made Of?
Fire retardant is mostly water, 85% of its composition is in fact. The other 15% is a mixture of fertilizers and additional ingredients. There are many different kinds of fire retardants.
Some are made from more natural chemicals so that they can be dropped in wilderness areas for fire suppression. This type of fire retardant is pink as opposed to the conventional red fire retardant used outside of the wilderness.
How Does Fire Retardant Work?
There are a couple of different ways that fire retardants can help abate fires. Some are in the wildland fire setting, while others are more appropriate for house fires.
Retardant Drops on Active Fires
The best way to utilize fire retardant is to apply it during aerial operations. During a wildfire, air tankers can drop fire retardant on open flames to prohibit further combustion reactions and slow the pace of fire growth.
Retardant Drops to Pre-Treat Fuels
If you want to establish a buffer zone around your fire line, a retardant drop can come in handy. This is specifically true if you utilize topographic features such as the tops of ridge-lines to coordinate your drop.
The retardant will coat existing fuels and slow (not stop) the spread of the fire once it reaches them.
Fire Retardant Clothing
Fire retardants can help synthesize flame-resistant clothing and other fire retardant materials that make things such as helmets or goggles. If you stick a notecard in fire retardant and try to light it on fire, it will not burn.
The same is true for clothing. Nomex is a common form of fire-resistant clothing. If you are a firefighter you should check out some FR shirts for men. That way you can stay safe while fighting fires.
One of the easiest forms of flame retardant for a civilian to access is a fire extinguisher. Every home should have one to remain safe. Without fire retardant they couldn’t exist.
Fire Retardant Saves Lives and Property
What is fire retardant? It is one of the most important tools a modern firefighter has at their disposal. From the clothes they wear to the equipment they use, to utilizing raw fire retardant in the field, it saves lives.
If you are a firefighter or want to increase your fire safety use the knowledge in this guide to find some medium of fire retardant that works for your day-to-day life. For all your other relevant news and information, stop back again!