Firefighting under Fire

Wednesday, July 26, 2006 10:14 AM
Fire Retardants in the Battle Against the Blaze


KKL-JNF’s directors toured northern Israel today to appraise the damage caused by forest fires. The scorched expanses which World Chairman Efi Stenzler and Co-Chairman Avraham Duvdevani viewed from the air were evidence of the heavy damage inflicted on the landscape throughout the north of the country. Several Katyusha rockets fell during the course of their visit, in tangible illustration of the daily trials of life under constant bombardment.


KKL-JNF teams in the north continue to risk their lives in the battle against the large number of fires caused daily by the dozens of Katyushas which fall in the region. These fires ignite and spread simultaneously from a number of different focal points.


One of the most advanced methods of fighting fire is the use of special chemicals known as fire retardants. These slow the spread of the fire and prevent trees from releasing flammable gases which increase fire intensity. KKL-JNF uses types of fire retardant recommended by the U.S. and European forest services, which have been found to be extremely effective in preventing wildfires from spreading.


In these troubled times, when fires have already destroyed more than half a million trees over an expanse of around 7,000 dunam (about 1,750 acres), about 20 tons of fire retardant are being used in the north every day to extinguish fires from the air.


Afforestation Division Director Tzvika Avni said that in recent days some 170 tons of fire retardant had arrived in Israel on six Israeli Air Force Boeing flights. Each flight carried around 28 tons of retardant manufactured in Canada and distributed in France by the European supplier. Yesterday the ship which left for France before the outbreak of hostilities in the north docked in Israel and delivered an additional 120 tons of the substance. The country requires 250 tons more to keep in stock for strategic purposes.