What is wildfire suppression?

Wildfire suppression is the term used for the variety of tactics used to fight wildfires. One of the first tasks firefighters accomplish is building a fireline. A fireline is a strip of land around a wildfire cleared of all vegetation and debris. This tactic robs a wildfire of its fuel and makes it easier for firefighters to contain the fire. They use a special tool called a Pulaski to create a fireline. A Pulaski is a double-headed tool, axe on one side, hoe-like tool on the other. It can both chop and dig. Specially trained firefighters called smokejumpers and hotshots can be called in to fight the wildfire. Smokejumpers are trained to fight especially large fires and hotshots are called in when the situation is especially dangerous. If the wildfire is large enough, aircraft (planes and helicopters) fly over the fire, dropping water and flame retardants (chemicals which stop chemical reactions in fires). The most well known flame retardant used is called sky jello. This pink-colored chemical consists mainly of water, but also includes fertilizer, ammonia phosphate, and other materials.

Contributing sources: FEMA, U.S. Forest Service

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