Project FuSE Aerial Suppression Final Report
Three experimental fires were conducted to demonstrate the effectiveness of different fire suppression chemicals delivered by aircraft in March 2008. The fires were conducted in mallee heath fuels in Ngarkat Conservation Park, South Australia, at a site being used for an existing fuel and fire dynamics research project. Each fire was started from a long ignition line and allowed to fully develop before being attacked by suppression. The only suppression applied to these fires came from two single engine air tankers (Airtractor AT-802F) dropping a single suppressant type in each experiment. A water enhancing gel was directly applied to the fire edge in one experiment, while a foam suppressant was applied in another. The third experimental plot involved a fire burning into a pre-laid retardant line.
The different suppression chemicals used in the experiments could not be directly compared. This was because the time taken for fire to burn through most of the drops could not be determined as they were breached by spotting or burnt around and because of the range of conditions experienced for the different drops.
The aerial suppression experiments presented here allowed for the development and testing of aerial suppression assessment methodologies and have produced data that can be used to develop training material. This data highlights the importance of drop placement with regard to fire behaviour and location. Footage captured using a hand held airborne infrared camera in an aerial platform demonstrated some important aerial suppression tactical issues, such as drop coverage, drop accuracy and drop placement. Fire burning through one of the retardant drops highlighted the importance of adequate ground coverage levels for stopping fire propagation.