Forest Research present at Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) seminars
News from Forest Research: November 2007
Even in Britain’s soggy climate, fire can be a threat to forests, heaths and moorland, and as a result foresters and landowners worldwide have learnt techniques for its management and suppression. In Scotland, the Fire and Rescue Service is encouraging use of this expertise by forming Wildfire Groups made up of both fire professionals and landowners, such as private estates and the Forestry Commission. This new closer working recognises the knowledge and experience of land managers in dealing with fire.
In the same vein, the Institution of Fire Engineers (IFE) recently organised a number of seminars on Fire Suppression for an audience of fire consultants and Fire and Rescue staff. Amongst the invited speakers were Forest Research’s Ian Murgatroyd, Colin Legg of Edinburgh University and Michael Bruce of Glen Tanar Estate.
Ian presented details of a study comparing the water quantities used by different pumps and methods to suppress similar fires. Conventional, small, low-pressure water suppression systems used 4 litres of water per metre of fire front, while high-pressure jet-wash pumps, (similar to the type used for vehicle washing) used less than 1 litre per metre of fire in order to suppress heather and grass fires. For rural fires, this is particularly important, since the nearest water source may be some distance from the fire front.
The discussion also covered other techniques in fire suppression, such as team working with beaters, which can be used as a stand-alone system or alongside water-based systems to reduce water usage rates. Detailed information was given on fire breaks, and other management issues were considered, such as strategic planning, e.g. controlling fires at known defensive points based on previous fire history. Case study data was also used to compare the performance of suppression systems (i.e. beater, pump and helicopter) to fire rates of spread.
The seminars received lively feedback and were a useful means of discussing fire suppression techniques for the UK.
For more details of FR’s work on fire management and suppression techniques, contact Michael Wall.