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Idaho Fire Incident Map

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Wildland Fire Retardant


Due to increased fire activity, resulting in the use of more retardant, a lot of questions about fire retardant have come up. Here is a few of the most common questions and answers to them .
Thank you.
What is retardant?

Fire retardant is water mixed with clay and Ammonium Polyphosphate Solution, a well-known fertilizing agent.

What does it do?

Fire retardant is used to coat the vegetation with the fire resistance mixture. This helps slow the fire progression and remove enough heat to allow fire fighters and firefighting equipment to safely enter area and extinguish the blaze.

Why is it red?

Fire retardant is red so pilots can easily see it from the air. The red color is due to the clay that is added to the mixture.
Does it hurt the environment?

No, this is a nontoxic combination that has minimal effect on the environment. It is applied by high skilled professionals with years of experience.

Why not just drop water? 

The engines are using water, why not use water from planes?
The use of water in fixed winged aircraft is less than half as effective as fire retardant. This is due to preheating of fuels and evaporation of water from an advancing fire. To put it simply, water evaporates too quickly when dropped from fixed wing aircraft. The height and speed of the aircraft along with the heat from the fire makes it less effective.