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Fire retardant dropped from airplanes comes to your yard

Fire retardant dropped from airplanes comes to your yard
Posted at 4:33 PM, Jun 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-09 20:54:58-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - A new tool aimed at protecting your home from wildfires comes from the makers of the familiar red fire retardant released from the air during firefights.

All that bright red fire retardant you see falling from the sky comes from one company. It’s a company that now wants to bring it to yards in fire-prone areas.

Wes Bolsen is Business Director of Global Wildfire Prevention and Protection at the St. Louis-based Perimeter Solutions.

“It’s a truly new breakthrough product that has opened up the ability for prevention,” said Bolsen.

It's called PHOS-CHEK Fortify.

Researchers from Stanford and several other schools helped reformulate the red fire retardant into a clear version that's stickier and longer-lasting.

“It's only red because we add a dye to pilots can see it. The new fire-retardant adheres better to vegetation and have that durability. Durability to rain, wind, weathering,” said Bolsen.

Bolsen says the retardant is applied on the vulnerable part of your property surrounding your home — as far as 100 feet out. The biodegradable retardant will wash away after some two cumulative inches of rainfall.

“It helps to render the vegetation non-flammable. So, in the event of a spark, it’s just going to turn the vegetation black. It won't burn,” said Bolsen.

Bolsen says the retardant is already being sprayed along roadways across the state, including one in Temecula last week.

In 2019, as part of pilot projects, it was spread over parts of Highway 67 and the Wildcat Canyon area.

“So there was an ignition on the roadside after we had applied, and all it burned was a 10-foot-by-10-foot circle, “ said Bolsen.

Bolsen says they're also in talks with SDG&E for use near power lines.

As for spraying it around homes, he says it's meant to supplement, not replace, other prevention measures like creating defensible space. He says it can also be applied directly to homes as a ‘reactive’ measure if a fire is approaching.

“I think this tool will become a broadly used tool in the state of California,” said Bolsen.

The product is available for purchase and is being used by service providers in San Diego County. As for the cost, it ranges from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand for larger properties.