Letter Re: Fire Suppression

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HJL,

I’ve been thinking more and more about possible fire suppression methods (a.k.a. “Fire Traps”) for SHTF, and I was wondering if you ever considered pre-staging fire-retardant materials in high-risk areas. This is just a theory, but have you considered hanging or placing materials that would dispense fire retardant if an actual fire broke out? This could be something like a bag or bucket hanging in a tree, so when the fire hits it, it melts the bag and dispenses the material. I realize in SHTF scenarios, you neither have the resources to fight a huge forest fire nor even have the expensive equipment (breathing gear, fire suits, et cetera) to combat a fire. Also, finite resources (like water) would probably be:

  • Not sufficient enough to do any significant damage to a fire,
  • Only localized to one area (the direction of the water being dispensed), and
  • A danger to the person dispensing the water if they are not adequately protected from smoke inhalation and heat.

By have pre-staged fire-suppression counter measures, you may be able to re-direct a fire or at least delay the fire enough to safely evacuate the area. It’s just an idea I’ve had, and I wanted to know if you’ve tested something like this out already.

HJL Replies: You are on the right track but thinking too small. There are standard fire prevention measures that can be taken on any property to reduce the risk of fire to life and property. Evacuation may not even be necessary, though it is often mandatory at times. Done properly, the prevention/suppression techniques can make sure that your property survives, even if you are not present to manage it. For starters, you need to clear trees and underbrush from the area surrounding your home. This is also in line with creating fields-of-fire for defense of that same home, so you can “kill two birds with one stone” here. With those items cleared, roaring forest fires are no longer a threat. All you need to do is manage smaller grass fires and/or floating embers. The grass fires can be managed by circumventing your abode with a dirt/gravel road and keeping flammables well away from the house. Gravel is always good, because it also acts as a noise barrier for anyone attempting to sneak up on the house. You need to make sure that any roofing material is non-flammable so the floating embers don’t start it on fire. Every location has different flora, so it is best to consult the county fire department on their recommendations. If you need help, they may even be willing to come to your location. Anything done for prevention makes their job easier. In the event of a large fire, they will be performing defensive maneuvers for structure protection, and you are making that job easier for them. Who knows, you may end up volunteering with them.

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