Australia— A new gel aimed at helping the NSW Rural Fire Service battle bushfires had its first test yesterday.
A controlled blaze was lit north of Dubbo Airport, as 30 pilots from across the State watched the effectiveness of the new technology.
The gel is mixed with water is considered revolutionary because of its ability to smother a fire and stop the extinguisher from evaporating.
Anthony Clark from the NSW Rural Fire Service said it was vital to test the new product and brief pilots and firefighters on its effectiveness before the start of the bushfire season.
“The season starts in most places on October 1 and in some areas on September 1 so it was important that these guys get a look at what they will be using,” Mr Clark said.
“It is also important to test it from different heights and different percentages in order to work out the most effective way to fight fires.
“The one advantage of this gel is that is stops the liquid from evaporating as quickly which is a significant improvement as far as firefighting is concerned.”
Paul Whiteley, operations officer for the Orana branch of the Rural Fire Service, said a lack of water had forced a rethink of firefighting techniques.
“This is the first time the product has been tested in NSW,” Mr Whiteley said.
“We have had to look at alternative ways to fight bushfires because of a lack of water and this new thermal gel appears to be very effective.
“We’ve used the annual pre-season briefing as a chance to test it out and compare it to other options such as the traditional foam and also the red Foscheck fire retardant, which is used a lot at the moment.”