According to the National Interagency Fire Center, the federal government spent $1.5 billion fighting fires last year, and with a near-record wildfire season underway, that number is sure to continue to rise. Unfortunately, much of that money was spent using equipment that spews toxic chemicals and emissions to douse the flames–sort of like saving the forest while damaging the trees (not to mention the wildlife).
Innovation in eco-fire fighting hopes to change that. Arkansas-based Working Chemical Solutions bills its Fire Blockade product as “the fastest, greenest, simplest and cleanest fire suppression system available.” (FYI, the product is the brainchild of Robert C. Smith, a former LSU Tigers defensive end turned biochemist who watched his laboratory burn to the ground — whoa.) Unlike dry chemicals and foams, water-based, biodegradable Fire Blockade doesn’t attack the oxygen in the fire; instead it alters the chemistry of the fuel surface and lowers the temperature of the fire dramatically so it can be more easily extinguished.
Summit Environmental Corp of San Diego has taken eco-fire fighting a step further–the nine-year-old company that previously developed products as diverse as organic skin care and toxic spill clean-up has recently refocused and declared itself on a “Green Firefighting” mission. The company is now 100% focused on its USDA-approved non-toxic Flameout fire suppressant and the development of technology for water and energy-saving fire vehicles.
While we couldn’t find any hybrid fire engines out there yet, if you’re ever unlucky enough to find yourself in a burning building in Sacramento, you might be cheered up by the fact that DaimlerChrysler’s one and only Mercedes Benz F-cell, the first fuel-cell powered fire response vehicle, is in service in the city as a supervisor’s vehicle. No, it doesn’t have a ladder and a hose, but hey, it’s a start.