No free refills

The snipe hunt, oar-lock key, board stretcher, water maker and unicorn are all mythical. Evaporation is very real. On a warm and windy day, with low relative humidity, extremely dry and abundant fuels and a large wildfire to deal with, engines or tankers must be positioned early in the hope of stopping a fire at a certain break.

Though the straight stream could probably shoot hundreds of feet, it just doesn’t work to suppress a fire at long range. The hundreds of gallons of water available to an engine, with two hoses and nozzles wide-open, would likely last between 20 minutes and half-an-hour.

A water tender divided between three engines would easily give an hour’s worth of water; but couldn’t last all afternoon. Each gallon of water can only be used once, there are no free refills on the fire line. When it seems that a cluster of fire-fighters are “just standing around,” it is more likely to be “anxious anticipation.”

Gene Nielsen
Crescent Mills