USA — A revolutionary fire blocking gel developed by a veteran Florida firefighter has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for its environmentally friendly formula through the use of safer surfactants and for its efforts in documenting a strategy for ensuring that only safer surfactants are used.
Barricade Fire Gel was invented by Palm Beach County firefighter John Bartlett after he observed that a disposable baby diaper did not burn during a routine trash fire. The water-absorbing polymers used in diapers are like those now used in Barricade Fire Gel. While Barricade has been credited with saving thousands of homes and businesses, Bartlett and his chemists worked for more than a decade to perfect this current formulation. The company now manufactures the only liquid fire gel approved for use by the U.S. Forest Service that is completely free of the hazardous surfactant known as nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), which scientific studies have shown can have long-term toxic effects on fresh- and salt-water fish and other wildlife. Barricade, based in Hobe Sound, Fla., is the only fire gel to receive a “Champion” designation, the highest level of recognition from the EPA as part of its Safer Detergents Stewardship Initiative. “Safer surfactants break down quickly to nonpolluting compounds and help protect aquatic life in both fresh and salt water,” said EPA Administrator Steve Johnson at the award ceremony in Washington, D.C. “By removing surfactants from their products, these SDSI Champions are improving their environmental footprints, satisfying consumer demand for safer products and contributing to cleaner, better protected waterways.” “NPEs and other problematic detergent chemicals are worthy of our attention and concern,” said James Gulliford, assistant administrator of the Office of Prevention, Pesticides and Toxic Substances. “NPEs are toxic to aquatic life, and as they break down in the environment they become even more toxic.” “This Champion Award is important because it validates that a firefighting chemical can be both more effective and earth-friendly at the same time,” said Bartlett. “I appreciate EPA’s recognition in designating our fire gel as an environmentally preferable product. This distinction will empower Barricade to save many more homes and businesses from destruction in wildfires while enabling my brother and sister firefighters to accomplish their important mission in a safer and more environmentally responsible manner.”