Business & Finance

What’s in the Forest Fire Retardant?

As 2020 progresses and we get deeper into the wildfire season, you will undoubtedly see video depictions on the nightly news showing airplanes dropping a red spray over an area affected by wildfire. If you’ve ever wondered what that spray is and how it works, you should continue reading the information below. While it’s difficult to halt the spread of a wildfire, particularly if it’s being driven by strong winds, the most effective known agent for slowing the spread of a wildfire is that red fire retardant you see dropped from airplanes.

In some cases, this retardant is dropped on the fringes of an existing wildfire to deter the spread of the fire, and in some cases it’s dropped directly on the main fire itself in the hopes of slowing its progress. At any rate, there is no more effective means of deterring or halting the spread of a wildfire than using fire retardant spray to slow it down, and sometimes to halt it.

The way these kinds of sprays work is to alter the flammability of the objects which the spray is applied to, so that they’re less likely to ignite, unless they’re exposed to the full brunt of the wildfire itself. These same kinds of fire retardants can be sprayed on homes and the surrounding property to slow down or prevent the progress of a wildfire, so that ideally no damage is done to the house and property.

What is Dropped From Planes During a Forest Fire?

The most commonly used fire retardant which is employed by the US Forest Service and by firefighters throughout the country, is a chemical retardant, which is the red material you see falling from air tankers over a wildfire. It has proven to be effective over five decades of service in firefighting, and in the aftermath of a wildfire, it simply leaches into the ground to serve as a fertilizer for the recovery of any area impacted by fires.

It is used not only by the air tankers flying above, but in some cases by both the hotshots and smokejumpers employed in firefighting will use it on the ground as well. Hotshots are the highly trained fire specialists who know a great many techniques for preventing the progress of a wildfire, and for slowing it down when it’s simply not possible to halt it. One of those methods they use is to spray areas in advance of the wildfire with the fire retardant spray, so as to inhibit its further spread, and to make it more difficult for the wildfire to gain momentum.

Smokejumpers are those firefighters who parachute into remote areas to combat wildfires which have been triggered there, and once they hit the ground, those smokejumpers have similar capabilities and functions as the hotshots. That means they can also spray various areas in advance of a wildfire to slow down its progress and hopefully to bring it to a halt. While spraying certain areas with fire retardant is not the only method that will be used by hotshots and smokejumpers, it is certainly one of the most effective.

The fire retardant spray dropped by airplanes and air tankers causes water and carbon to form on any object where it’s sprayed. When the object is heated by an approaching wildfire, the water evaporates, thus cooling the object and making it less likely to combust. The carbon then applies a kind of protective coating over the object, which increases its resistance to flames and heat, thereby inhibiting the progress of any flames in the area.

This chemical reaction brought about by the fire retardant spray has proven to be highly effective in combating the spread of a wildfire, and that’s why it has been used in widespread applications wherever wildfires are triggered.

What is that Made of?

So, what is in fire retardant? Fire retardant is typically made of ammonium polyphosphate, along with water and some additional performance additives. The red coloring that you see in newsreel footage of wildfires is used so that air tankers can see from above which areas have already been coated with fire retardant, and which areas still need to have retardant dropped on them. The chemical reaction that is initiated by this fire retardant spray causes pure carbon to form on the outer layer of any object where it’s been sprayed, and since pure carbon will not ignite, it acts as a safeguard or protective layer for the object.

The science behind this is what makes forest fire retardant so effective. Fire retardants in general are chemical compounds which usually consist of sulfates and phosphates that are employed for the purpose of slowing a fire down or stopping it altogether, and reducing its intensity. That being the case, this spray is generally applied to all those materials and areas which could potentially act as a source of fuel for an approaching wildfire.

That means trees, shrubs, grasses, and any other flammable items in the path of a wildfire should be sprayed so as to deny it that extra source of fuel which will add momentum to the wildfire. When a wildfire strikes anywhere, they can be so powerful and so devastating, that it might seem like there’s nothing anyone can do to slow it down. This is especially true when strong winds conspire to drive the wildfire faster and more furiously onward, consuming everything in its path.

Defend Your Home From Damage

If the US Forest Service has such confidence in PHOS-CHEK HOME DEFENSE fire retardant spray, it seems logical for you to have that same level of confidence as a consumer, and use it to protect your home and property. Contact us today to place your order for this highly effective home defense product, or to ask any questions you may have about its performance.

About the author


Mithilesh Chaubey has been working with international clients for over a decade. He provides comprehensive digital marketing services, coaching, and content writing services. His educational background in marketing has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. His writing skills may be confirmed independently on various websites