How They Get the Job Done
Some of the equipment used in fire suppression today has changed over the years, while others have not. High tech equipment and new computer technologies allow fire teams to have better and quicker information on fire mapping, satellite imagery, accurate weather forecasts, and fire behavior modeling.
Improvements in aircraft systems for cargo, fire-retardant chemicals, water delivery systems, and firefighter clothing have likewise evolved with the safety of the firefighter and the public in mind. However, the main tool is still the firefighter with hand tools such as pulaskis, shovels, and adze hoes.
Bulldozers and Tractor Plows
Tracked vehicles with plows for clearing vegetation and mechanized equipment can build fireline or firebreak faster and more efficiently than human firefighters in terrain that allows equipment use.. Some vehicles also carry water to douse wildfires and equipment to burn out.
These large planes, fitted with tanks, provide direct support to firefighters on the ground by dropping up to several thousand gallons of water or chemical retardant ahead of an advancing wildfire. As the fire hits the wet area or retardant, it goes out. Even the Air National Guard helps out with the Modular Airborne FireFighting Systems (MAFFS).
Helicopters fitted with fixed tanks or suspended buckets that range in size from 100 to 2,000 gallons support firefighters on the ground by dropping water, foam, or retardant on or near the flaming trees, brush, and structures to cool hot spots and prevent a fire from spreading and give firefighters time to contain the fire.
A bambi bucket is a collapsible bucket slung below a helicopter, used to dip water from a variety of sources for fire suppression.
A combination chopping and trenching tool, a Pulaski combines a single-bitted axe-blade with a narrow adze-like trenching blade fitted to a straight handle. Useful for grubbing or trenching in duff and matted roots, it is also well-balanced for chopping.
Fire Resistant Pants/Shirt
All wildland firefighters wear flame resistant clothing made of a special high-strengthen, synthetic material known as Nomex.
This device for dripping a stream of flaming liquid is used to facilitate rapid ignition during burn out operations on a wildland fire or during a prescribed fire operation.
An aluminized tent offering protection by means of reflecting radiant heat and providing a volume of breathable air if the firefighter gets trapped by the fire.
A linear fire barrier that is scraped or dug in mineral soil to prevent or deter the advancement of a wildfire.