The aim of this study was to capture data on area-based water delivery systems, specifically in the context of logistics, systems differentiation, water delivery, and its localized effects. FPInnovations successfully collaborated with Fire & Flood to obtain this data. A two-day test was executed during which Fire & Flood set up their 4- and 12-inch systems and carried out sprinkler operations.
Mulching is a common method of fuel treatment. However, it is not currently listed by the U.S. Forest Service as a fuel type in its recommendations for fire retardant coverage levels. FPInnovations researchers set up plots with different coverage levels of retardant on a mulch fuel bed and collected fire behaviour data when a fire interacted with these plots. The results are intended to help wildfire agencies understand the effectiveness of retardant on mulch fuels in developing better suppression plans.
FPInnovations’ Wildfire Operations Advisory group has asked its researchers to explore a method by which the performance of water-enhancing products can be repeatedly assessed in the laboratory. A new test method, known as the crib test, was designed to evaluate the effectiveness of water-enhancing products on burning woody fuel to simulate direct-attack aerial operations.
This report outlines the methodology for the crib test and describes the findings from performance evaluation tests conducted at the Protective Clothing and Equipment Research Facility (PCERF) at the University of Alberta.
This study focuses on evaluating the relative performance of different commercially available wildland fire chemicals using a custom-built sensible enthalpy rise calorimeter, known as the ‘Thermal Canister.’ Six different fire chemicals were evaluated in this study: Blazetamer 380, AquaGel-K, Firewall II, WD 881C, Thermo-Gel 200 L, and FireIce 561. The evaluation of the relative performance of the fire chemicals was conducted by using the average heat release rate as the primary metric.
It was found that under the test conditions, Thermo-Gel 200L at 3% concentration and FireIce 561 at 1.4% concentration were the most effective at suppressing combustion. The fire chemicals that were least effective at suppressing combustion were Firewall II at 0.25% and 2% concentration and WD 881C at 0.1%, 0.3%, and 1% concentrations. The study also found that certain fire chemicals such as AquaGel-K and FireIce 561 at their highest approved mix ratios were too viscous to be applied and may prove to be challenging to use for firefighting operations.
Data from this study will be used in the Wildfire Chemical Roadmap, where results from multiple tests will help assess the effectiveness and cost of using gels.
An important characteristic of the majority of the water-enhancing products on the wildfire suppression market is their ability to increase the viscosity of water. This increase in viscosity is linked to their performance. While performance of these products is key, there are several external variables that can influence how these suppressants physically behave. One such external variable is water quality, which is anecdotally known to impact water-enhancing products.
This study aimed to understand how water quality—in particular, hardness—affects the viscosity of various water-enhancing products at different mix ratios. Understanding how water quality affects the viscosity of these products can offer insight into (1) which products are highly sensitive to water quality changes, and (2) how the target viscosity of a mixed product can be affected by water quality.
The USDA Forest Service’s Qualified Product List (QPL) provides guidance on the range of permissible mix ratios for water-enhancer products. Due to the proprietary nature of water-enhancer products, there are several unknowns about the rheology of the permissible mix ratios.
This study focused on mapping the viscosity of various suppressant products as a function of their mix ratios. The results revealed a wide range of viscosities across products, with each product showing a different non-linear relationship with different mix ratios.
The results from this study can help understand the optimum viscosity range to achieve desired drop characteristics during aerial operations.