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Interesting Tools Used by Wildland Firefighters

Interesting Tools Used by Wildland Firefighters

When you think of firefighting, you probably picture structural firefighters—that is, firefighters who put out flames in the towns and cities. Wildland firefighters perform the same function, albeit in a natural environment. Because of where they work—beneath the trees and in spreading fields—they require an assortment of devices specially designed to address the unique needs of firefighting in the outdoors. Read on to learn more about a few interesting tools used by wildland firefighters.

Emergency Fire Shelters

One of the greatest dangers of fighting fires in the wild is the possibility of being overwhelmed by the spreading flames. Wildland firefighters often bring portable emergency fire shelters in case the flames spread too quickly. These shelters—constructed from two or more layers of aluminum foil and silica cloth—allow the firefighters to quickly cover themselves and survive a blaze long enough to escape. Shelters reflect heat and handle temperatures ranging up to 500 degrees Fahrenheit for a short time. The shelters also trap breathable air untainted by soot and embers.

Pulaski Axe

Named after wildland firefighter Edward Pulaski, the Pulaski tool is a combination of an axe and adze—the latter being a tool used for cutting and shaping wood. This indispensable tool allows firefighters to chop wood with the axe head as well as dig firebreaks, create trails, and make holes to divert and slow the spread of fires. The tool is effective even when used on the hardest soil.

Drip Torches

Sometimes, as the old saying goes, you must fight fire with fire. Drip torches contain gasoline and diesel fuel and are kept alight by a wrapped wick. The drip torch is then used to set fire to foliage to perform controlled burns or otherwise dispose of dry vegetation.

Backpack Pumps

In the early stages of a wildfire, or when cleaning up after one, backpack pumps help firefighters put out small hotspots that can start or restart fires. These portable water-spraying packs carry about five gallons of water, which firefighters can direct at fires, embers, and any smoking residue left after a bigger fire. One of the more interesting tools used by wildland firefighters, backpack pumps have a charmingly vulgar nickname among firefighters, but they are crucial additions to the firefighting arsenal nonetheless.

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