Like most of you the fire service, I constantly read about large fires around the country that causes a great deal of damage and destruction. In the past six months, we have seen large scale wildfires raging not only in California but all over the western states; some are still raging as I write this, and it is just the start of wildfire season in California.
We have seen a new wave of firefighting air tankers come on board from Boeing 747s and DC-10s to BAE 146s to name a few. Also in the mix are new products that must be approved for firefighting by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Forest Service. Before any approval is given by the USDA for firefighting use, the product must be tested and approved before it can be used on any fireground scenario.
EarthClean Corporation of St. Paul, Minnesota, announced that its TetraKO® XL-P firefighting water enhancer has been added, effective immediately, to the qualified product list (QPL) of the USDA Forest Service for use on wildland firefighting operations. The USDA Forest Service, through its Missoula Technology and Development Center, has evaluated, qualified, and approved TetraKO XL-P’s water enhancer for use by ground engine, helicopter bucket, and single engine air transport (SEAT) apparatus.
This innovative, cornstarch-based water enhancer is a new tool for fire suppression and fire management operations. “TetraKO XL-P is the first ready biodegradable water enhancer approved by the USDA Forest Service for use in wildland firefighting operations. Its inclusion in the QPL represents a watershed for our company and furthers our mission to provide organizations with new tools to add to their firefighting arsenal,” explains James R. Grabek, EarthClean Corporation president. “We have invested a significant amount of time and resources to the QPL approval process, and we are excited now to get on with the business of working with wildland firefighting organizations to protect property and natural resources threatened by wildland fires!”
TetraKO XL-P water enhancer granulate easily mixes with water and can be poured directly into a wide range of existing wildland firefighting equipment, including air-pressurized fire extinguishers, backpack sprayers, skid units, utility vehicles, helicopter buckets, and SEAT operations. The ready biodegradable mixed solution provides excellent Class-A firefighting and fire management performance.
Cornstarch-based TetraKO poses no known environmental risk to sensitive waterways, plant species, aquatic wildlife, birds and small omnivores and herbivores. With USDA Forest Service approval and QPL designation, TetraKO XL-P ready biodegradable water enhancer gives incident commanders increased flexibility when fighting wildland fires on environmentally sensitive areas of United States government lands. (Note: The USDA Forest Service recommends, whenever practical, as determined by the fire incident commander, the use of water or other less toxic wildland fire chemical suppressants for direct attack, or less toxic approved fire retardants in areas either occupied by threatened, endangered, proposed, candidate or sensitive species or designated as their critical habitats.)
“We’ve conducted testing with SEAT aircraft, as well as a variety of ground-based equipment, with excellent results,” says Grabek. “In addition to application on federal lands, this QPL designation gives TetraKO water enhancer the USDA’s official approval required by many state DNR and forestry organizations for wildland firefighting and structure protection.”
TetraKO XL-P granulate is conveniently packaged in sizes ranging from four-ounce bottles (for mixing into a 2½-gallon capacity fire extinguisher) to a small pail (enough to create 250 gallons of mixed solution). Larger sizes are available upon request.
What I think is cool is that this product can be used in any type of land-based vehicle, not just air tankers and helicopters. Is this an alternative to the compressed air foam system? I guess we will have to stay tuned to get that answer.