International Journal of Wildland Fire International Journal of Wildland Fire Society
Journal of the International Association of Wildland Fire
RESEARCH ARTICLE

Long-term forest fire retardants: a review of quality, effectiveness, application and environmental considerations

Anna Giménez A B , Elsa Pastor A , Luis Zárate A , Eulàlia Planas A and Josep Arnaldos A
+ Author Affiliations
- Author Affiliations

A CERTEC: Centre d’Estudis del Risc Tecnològic (Centre for Studies on Technological Risk) Department of Chemical Engineering, Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya, Av. Diagonal, 647, E-08028 Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain).

B Corresponding author. Telephone: +34 93 4016675; fax: +34 93 4017150; email: anna.gimenez@upc.es

International Journal of Wildland Fire 13(1) 1-15 https://doi.org/10.1071/WF03001
Submitted: 17 January 2003  Accepted: 30 September 2003   Published: 8 April 2004

Abstract

Since the beginning of the 1930s research has been directed towards improving the effectiveness of water as a forest fire extinguishing agent. Throughout this time various chemical substances have been added to the water, and this is still the case today. Among these substances are the various types of long-term forest fire retardant, which maintain their ability to alter combustion when the water has been removed by evaporation. In order to provide an account of the current state of development of studies on long-term forest fire retardants, we carried out a bibliographic analysis with special attention to work done after 1976 on the different aspects that influence the final effectiveness of forest fire retardant: quality (programs and evaluation), effectiveness, application and environmental impact on streams and aquatic organisms, vegetation and humans. The scope of this work covers the wide subject of fire retardants and it introduces significant work related to all the aspects of fire retardant use.


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1 Those properties, including viscosity and elasticity, affecting the flow characteristics of a fluid. These properties affect the behavior of the retardant as it is dropped from an airtanker.

2 gpc: gallons per 100 square feet.

3 The use of trade firm names in this publication is for reader information and does not imply endorsement by the Centre for Studies on Technological Risk.

4 A directional radiometer (Gier-Dunkle) was used to measure the maximum value of energy released.

5 The toxicity tests are conducted by the manufacturers themselves or by a contracted laboratory.

6 Fire-Trol GTS-R with and without sodium ferrocyanide or ferrous oxide colorant and Phos-Chek D75-R did not contain sodium ferrocyanide

7 The use of this corrosion inhibitor was discontinued in early 1970s, and it was never in most retardants.


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