Fire Fighting

Already the Gauteng skies are being smudged with smoke from veld fires. Smallholders need to make sure that we have adequate firefighting equipment.
Note that the equipment used to prepare burnt firebreaks such as firebeaters and backpack sprayers will not be sufficient to fight runaway fires successfully unless you have very many of them available in properly trained hands (i.e. lots of labour available at all times) and unless your own paddocks have been properly cut and cleared of the cuttings.
For if you have ever stood near the face of a runaway fire ~ even one in quite short grass ~ you will have noticed the quite considerable “wind” that the flames whip up. That is the convection currents created by the rising heat.
Any firefighting efforts you take need therefore not only to extinguish the advancing flames but they also need to overcome the energy of the convection winds. That requires a lot of power; certainly more than a team of labourers armed with no more than a firebeater each, or a backpack sprayer, can achieve.
Stronger, higher capacity sprayers are required, and these inevitably come mounted on trailers or on bakkies, with their own water supply. Or, you can use the new, powerful motorised backpack blowers now available from leading manufacturers such as Husqvarna, Shindaiwa and Stihl, so long as the user is also properly kitted out in a fireproof suit, breather apparatus and goggles.
Concerns over water capacity can be partially overcome by making the water “wetter”.
This is achieved by adding urea and wetting agent to the water (or by adding a specially bought compound from a firefighting equipment dealer such as Multifire & Power.)
This must be added immediately before fighting the fire and cannot be stored in the unit as it will perish hoses and washers.

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