Thread: Leaf Blowers

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    Question Leaf Blowers

    Our department responds to all sorts of ground cover fires. Anything from tall prarie grass to crop fields containing wheat and corn. Also you can throw timber acreage into the mix. We've recently been considering the possibility of purchasing back pack style leaf blowers for for ground cover firefighting. I know some departments are using them, What kind of results, good and bad are you having? Any certain types better or worse? Also what tactics do you use?
    We do have brush trucks but access to areas with this apparatus sometimes isn't available.

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    Great tool but not a catch all.

    They work real well for clearing a fire break through the woods, get ahead and blow a 5-10 foot clear path.

    They can blow the fire back into itself and make quick work of a grass only fire.

    A feild fire with taller stuf can be slowed down with a blower and a second person using a flapper or a rake.

    Sthile is making one with a 2 galolon water tank feed to the output, makes a damp air.

    You need to be real carefull when the wind is blowing, they can blow embers way ahead starting spot fire all over.

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    I've never heard of that before but it sounds like a good theory.
    Is the (correct me) object to blow the flame back into the burned area? I could see it for clearing light fuels for a fire break but it's the mulch that the fire likes to burrow through.
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    Here's a link about using blowers for building firelines.
    We have used backpack blowers with great success! On grass fires you can put out the fire about three times faster with a blower than with bakpack sprayers. Usually you can put out the fire about as fast as you can walk. The only place that I've had trouble with using the blower is when there is a lot of scrub mixed in with the fire. But in grass or leaves it works wonderful. As the old saying goes, it's the cats meow!

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    They work good for hard wood leaf litter, but they don't wotk in pine forests. Personally I have never seen one used, and don't think they would be useful in my area, but I have heard a lot of good things from people back east who have used them.

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    Cool Uh, Yeah..............

    Eastern Hardwood Forests are the best arenas for this type of battle, since the Hardwoods leaves are easily blown with the air current. I've used one several times, and the tactic of blowing a wide path through the leaves is the best way to get a rough line in place fast. You still need the shovels and Pulaskis though. I have not experimented with using the air flow directly against the Fire yet, but I hope to, with an upcoming prescribed burn. Remember, ALL SAFETY RULES STAY IN PLACE. Using a new tool, and tactics, is NOT the time to slack off on Safety.
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    You know, now that I think of it, I don't think it would be a good idea to carry about a gallon and a half of gasoline on your back into a fire. Call me old fashioned...
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    We have one that we bought to dry off the trucks....
    The comments made by me are my opinions only. They DO NOT reflect the opinions of my employer(s). If you have an issue with something I may say, take it up with me, either by posting in the forums, emailing me through my profile, or PMing me through my profile.
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    I watched a leaf blower used on a ground cover fire. The fire was about one foot high before the leaf blower and THREE feet high with the air blowing on it. Needless to say, the operator immediately traded in the leaf blower for an Indian tank.

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    Lightbulb Uh Huh............................

    Originally posted by Stuart
    I watched a leaf blower used on a ground cover fire. The fire was about one foot high before the leaf blower and THREE feet high with the air blowing on it. Needless to say, the operator immediately traded in the leaf blower for an Indian tank.

    Obviously Operator Error......
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    Originally posted by firenresq77
    We have one that we bought to dry off the trucks....
    And for blowing the bays out
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    Originally posted by Dave1983


    And for blowing the bays out
    That too!!
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    Originally posted by snowball
    You know, now that I think of it, I don't think it would be a good idea to carry about a gallon and a half of gasoline on your back into a fire. Call me old fashioned...
    Then I guess you wouldn't carry a backfire torch or backfire fusees either?

    Use some common sense. If you have 30 foot flame lengths and 30 mph winds.....you're certainly not going to use a backpack blower directly on or near the fireline. However, for the creeping fire in accumulated forest duff...it is a terrific tool.

    Backpack leaf blowers can create firebreaks in hardwood forest duff quite quickly...but must be used in conjunction with rakes, shovels and/or McLeod tools. A three person crew can clear an impressive amount of line in a matter of minutes. Each engine in my section carries a backpack blower. As with any tool, learn how and when to use it.
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    We have one that we bought to dry off the trucks....

    And for blowing the bays out


    Great selling point! I can convince the finance officers that they are multi-functional. At least three uses. Anymore ideas?

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    When it comes to brush fires, we do it the ol' fashoned way with flappers & water jackets. The brush truck works well too. As for leaf blowers, the brass bought one for us to blow out the bay's & apparatus pad. I think I'm going to suggest it gets put on the brush truck for brush fires. Then they can't chase us around making sure we're staying busy blowing leaves.
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    we use our leaf blower on the rescue engine to remove leftover debris from MVA's and blow it off the interstate....onto the or over trhe shoulder or median.........
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    Let me see if I understand this theory correctly. You use a leaf blower to surpress the fire or build a fire line in front of the advancing flames? Which is it? I think I can uderstand the building of a fire line in front of the fire but not the extinguishing portion. We have a policy (and common sense) that states to fight the fire from the burned portion. If, by using this method (staying in the burned area) you apply a high volume of wind to the base of the fire would this not increase the fire spread? Or do you stay in the unburned area and utilize the leaf blower forcing the fire to the burned area? I may just be confused and would see the benefit of this tactic if it were presented in a the proper training format. I am not saying that the tactic is incorrect but, it seems to me that applying wind to any wildland type fire will aid in the spread of the fire.

    I have been wrong before and not afraid to admit to it. Just trying to understand the basic concept of this tactic.

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    Originally posted by BFDLT32
    Let me see if I understand this theory correctly. You use a leaf blower to surpress the fire or build a fire line in front of the advancing flames?
    The leaf blower is used to create a fireline by blowing leaves/duff material....ahead of the advancing flames.

    It should never be used in an attempt to blow out flames....only as an aid in indirect fireline construction.
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    Read this

    leaf blower
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    Smile

    Thanks. This makes more sense now that I have better understanding of the tactic used.

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    Yes, fighting "Black Out" is often standard practice when in pump and roll with brush trucks and such...

    But its pretty much impossible to dig fireline form the black!

    You have to have unburned fuel between you and the fire when digging handline...

    And you have to remove that fuel of course.

    Leaf blowers...never seen one in Montana used at a wildfire.

    Funny story about this. Years ago there was a huge project fire going in the Western part of the state. We took an engine up. A hand crew from Tennessee got to the fire, went to the supply cash and tried to get leaf blowers...the supply guy, a western US guy, look at them like they were crazy and started handing out pulaskies...got a good laugh out of that one.

    The just wouldnt work in our forests here. Never tried one on a grass fire, but the way they move on the prairie of eastern Montana I would not want to try that!

    Hell, you cant even out run those fires for the most part. If the wind was realy weak then maybe the leaf blower would work, but other wise its pump and roll or heavy machinery. No hand work is going to catch a prairie fire with 40mph sustained winds.

    We are starting to outfit our trucks with front mounted monitors (Akron FireFox). This keeps the guys in the cab and much safer then walking beside the truck on riding cowboy on the rear. Wind direction changes or geting run over are serious dangers in pump and roll, getting the guys into the cab is a major major safety improvement.

    Try a leaf blower on this!!!



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    Originally posted by NJFFSA16


    Then I guess you wouldn't carry a backfire torch or backfire fusees either?

    Use some common sense. If you have 30 foot flame lengths and 30 mph winds.....you're certainly not going to use a backpack blower directly on or near the fireline. However, for the creeping fire in accumulated forest duff...it is a terrific tool.
    Yes I would carry a drip torch and fusees, I have set many a backfire with those tools. I have also seen a calm day erupt into a windstorm when a simple grass fire generated enough steam to change the weather around the fire.
    Out here in sunny Cali we don,t ever get a sumer rain and our winters are pretty dry as well(this year being the exception). That means the ground has no moisture in it and that aggrivates an already low humidity. Wet winters mean vegitation density will be greater and the ground will still dry out causing a heavy fire load. Drier forrests mean extensive deadfall wich can't be blown ot of the way. Also the duff layers because of the lack of moisture will not compost as readily leaving you with about an average of 6 to 8" of fuel. It hardly constitutes a "creeping fire". The blowers that work in your area, would probably do more harm than good out here because of the lightning speed that wildland fires can change from mild to wild.

    Now I agree with you in the sense that behind a hand crew clearing a line, the blower could be very effective in cleaning out what the Pollaskys and McCleods missed. Use that along with a good saw crew and you will make a strong break. But in the lower elevations where the scrub oak and tall dry grasses abound, it wold not be beneficial.
    IAFF

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    Try a leaf blower on this!!!

    Obviously we wouldn't use them in this situation. As we wouldn't use a pressurized water can on a structure fire. Wanting input on smaller leaf and ground fires unexcessible by trucks. Are they effective.

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    Default Leaf Blower are a tool for wildland firefighters in the Eastern Hardwoods.

    Leaf blowers work great as a line construction tool in the hardwood lead litter of the East.A initial attack crew with a leaf blower and council rakes can quickly cut line to control a forest fire.One firefighter trained in the use of a leaf blower in hardwood leaf litter can cut more chains per hour than four firefighters with hand tools only.The leaf blower is NOT the tool of choice for western fuels types or duff of the northeast.The leaf blower should be at the second or third tool back from the line locator and followed by crew with hand tools to remove the heavy fuels such as logs and limbs.

    The leaf blowers should be commercial grade.The units are usually beefed up a little by the end user. If the blower is being used to build fire line.The fuel lines,pull cords and shoulder straps should be upgraded.In kentucky the leaf blower found it way into the rural fire service via the Kentucky Division of Foresrty in the early sixty's.Their are several venders making gasoline leaf blowers.One of the early brands being used by the forest service and fire department was Mfn by windmill.The two most common brands found on Kentucky wildland engines today are Mfn by Stihl or husqvarna.

    The leaf blower is great for structural protect in the urban interface.Firefighters can quickly clear leaf cover driveways or remove wind piled leaf litter away for structures.If you have time to ladder the roof prior to the fire reaching the structure gutters can also be cleared to prevent hidden sparks from causes a roof fire.
    The leaf blower is a good tool to have in the tool box.Training is a must for line construction.Wildland PPE with eye protection is needed.The operator of the blower and any nearby firefighters will be hamper by the noise of the unit.They MAY not hear vital information over the radio.Post a lookout for the leaf blower crew who is aware noise levels which could limit radio warning of changes in fire behavior.
    Last edited by coldfront; 03-30-2005 at 11:31 PM.
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