FireIce® Gel Fire Suppressant for Firefighting Operations

GelTech® Solutions’ FireIce® is a dry powder that, when added to water, produces a firefighting gel that saps the heat and oxygen from a fire. Its uses include the following: 
  • Fire suppressant. In addition to wildfires, it also extinguishes brush, structural, tire, motor vehicle, and other types of fires. 
  • A burn barrier. When sprayed on a surface, the gel adheres to the burning material, cools the burning fuels, and rapidly suffocates the fire and prevents the fire from rekindling. 
  • To retard fire. It is a medium-term retardant that protects structures.   
  • To create fire breaks. The product is used to create breaks in front of advancing wildfires, and has been used on some of the historical fires throughout the desert southwest so far this year.  
The easy-to-use gel is safe for firefighting equipment and is also inert and environmentally friendly. There is no need for expensive retrofits or harsh chemicals for washing down or cleaning up.
Added to water at a ratio dependent on the type of fireground operation for which it is needed, it can be mixed directly in pumper trucks, water canisters, water tankers, and aircraft tankers.
Homeowner applies FireIce® on her house and surrounding property. (Photo courtesy of GelTech® Solutions.)

FireIce® has been tested by the Southwest Research Institute and complies with ANSI/UL 711, Rating and Fire Testing of Fire Extinguishers, and National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 10, Standard for Portable Fire Extinguishers, and NFPA 18A, Standard on Water Additives for Fire Control and Vapor Mitigation. It is listed on the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) Qualified Products List and is compliant with USFS Specification 5100-306a.

Fire departments have tested and deployed FireIce®. A sampling of their findings follows:

Magnesium Fire. Our station was toned out to a vehicle fire. When we arrived on scene, we came up on a 2000 Ford Expedition that was fully involved in flame less than 20 feet from the residence.  We used a 1½-inch preconnect line with straight water from our pumper because of the close proximity of the vehicle to the house. We found that the engine block of the vehicle was made from magnesium and was actively burning.
I grabbed my 2.5-gallon fire extinguisher that had been filled with FireIce® and sprayed it onto the magnesium fire. There were none of the usual sparks or small explosions associated with putting water on a magnesium fire. The gel coated and cooled the magnesium as soon as it made contact with the fire. I found that this product would have been even more efficient if I had had a spray nozzle on my hose instead of a straight stream …. Chief Michael J. Alleman, Meadow Village (LA) Fire Department.
“Winning” Characteristics. Chief Gary Coleman, before his recent retirement from the Intermountain Fire & Rescue Department in Ramona, California, had evaluated several protectant/suppression gels in the wake of the destruction caused by the “Witch” Fire of 2007. (Santa Ana winds gusting up to 60 miles per hour had pushed this California wildfire westward, from Witch Creek, east of Ramona, to Escondido, within eight hours. The fire burned almost 200,000 acres and destroyed about 1,500 homes.) Coleman, who served 14 years firefighting in the California Urban Interface environment, notes that the fire started just two miles east of his fire station and destroyed more than 150 structures in the area.
The fire department had established certain criteria for the products that would be used to protect property and suppress fire in its jurisdiction. Following are some of the criteria (C) used by the fire department to evaluate the gels and some reasons (R) it ultimately selected FireIce®:  
(C) Any person with basic level training should be able to mix and apply the gel without the need for costly equipment or extensive training; any member of any agency responding to the fire should be able to use it. The gel was to act as a “force multiplier,” increasing the effectiveness of the scarce resources available to protect structures and suppress fire.
(R) Once mixed, there is no need for additional training to apply the product. The directions for mixing are on the product label; the equipment needed (and supplied with the gel) can be set up within three minutes. Firefighters can use the same equipment to apply the gel whether to protect a structure or suppress a fire.
(C) The gel would have to adhere to the protected material based on Southern California “Red Flag Conditions.” Typically, the thicker the viscosity, the easier it is to apply gel in high-wind conditions.
(R) FireIce® gel remained hydrated for from 24 to 96 hours. Applying a light “fog” pattern of water rehydrated the gel on the vegetation and structures when needed.  
(C) The productwould have to be safe for people and the environment.
(R) When FireIce® was no longer needed, a plain water stream would dilute and wash away the gel, leaving no residues, films, or tarnish. The product is 100 percent biodegradable, nontoxic, and noncorrosive.
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