Fighting fire with ‘ping pong balls’

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — Firefighters have many alternative methods to battle wildfires in our area. It would shock many individuals that certainly one of their most essential instruments can match within the palm of your hand.¬†

The usage of incendiary ping pong balls has advanced because it began within the 1980’s within the U.S.

Matthew Schutty, Supervisory Forestry Technician for the Siskiyou Rappell Crew, stated the balls are an ideal instrument to ignite areas on the bottom which might be more durable for individuals to get to.

The ball itself is full of potassium permanganate and is injected with antifreeze, which causes a response that lights the ball on fireplace inside about 45 seconds. 

The balls are used primarily for prescribed burns, however they’re additionally used for fireplace suppression. Crews drop them from helicopters or drones to create again burns, which helps management the fireplace.¬†

Schutty stated the balls are sometimes dropped in locations that hand crews can’t get to, which is a serious security profit for the women and men on the bottom. Nonetheless, there’s a trade-off.

The mission is riskier than an everyday flight.

“You are spending loads¬†of time 50 to 100 toes proper above the timber and if one thing goes incorrect, the outcomes are usually catastrophic,” Schutty stated.¬†

Whereas the instrument has been used to battle fires for almost 30 years, the know-how has advanced loads these previous few years, permitting the balls to be dropped from drones. 

Final yr, crews used the brand new growth on the Klondike and Taylor Creek Fires. 

Schutty stated the drone know-how could also be comparatively new, however it’s taking off rapidly.

“I feel it’s going to be one of many areas the place drones truly take away a number of the helicopter work,” Schutty stated.¬†

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