What Are They Waiting For?

There is a great product that has been out there for about eight years that stops fires cold, costs less than any other retardant, and actually helps things grow after the fire.

With California wildfires vividly in our minds, it’s fitting to focus on a new product that could help firefighters stop such devastation.

FireIce — a potassium-based polymer that, when mixed with water, becomes a gel that stops fires cold — could soon make its California debut.

California’s 2,096 wildfires burned more than 1.2 million acres, destroyed 2,000 homes and caused at least 15 deaths. Shasta and Trinity counties saw more than $55 million in damage. Gel Tech Solutions, the Florida-based company that makes FireIce, wants to dramatically reduce such statistics.

Created eight years ago by Peter Cordani, chief technology officer of Gel Tech Solutions, FireIce is nontoxic, noncorrosive and biodegradable. Designed to fight wildfires, this product can be sprayed on vegetation and homes. Sprayed ahead of a fire, it creates an effective fire break. Sprayed on “hot spots,” it instantly snuffs out flames, preventing them from recurring, company officials said.

Tom Strenta of Gel Tech said once the fire is over, simply hose things down and FireIce dissolves. Its formula then enhances tree and brush growth.

FireIce was tested by one of the largest independent laboratories in the United States (Southwest Research Institute of San Antonio). FireIce also tested effective against fires from rubber, tires, gasoline and diesel fuel, company officials said.

“This product can mean the difference between first- and third-degree burns or between life and death,” Strenta said.

Sounds pretty good right? What would keep California firefighters from using this miracle gel? California Politics.

But before California’s firefighters can benefit from the product, it must still undergo more testing and be certified through the Department of Forestry. Once it passes, a number of agencies must sign off on it. These oversight groups include OSH-TAC, the state Fire Marshal’s Office, the National Wildlife Coordinating Group and the National Fire Protection Administration, whose guidelines firefighters adhere to.

This entire process takes up to 18 months. But there’s a silver lining. In cases of extreme emergency, Cal Fire can “use any product that’s useful for fire suppression activities,” said Dave Ault, deputy chief of operations for Cal Fire’s North Region in Redding.

There’s more.

FireIce requires no special equipment or mixing. One 50-pound bag will fill a typical 500-gallon firetruck. Just add water.

The price is appealing. Other methods cost from $4 to $20 a gallon. FireIce’s 60 cents a gallon cost could cut California’s firefighting expenses.

Check out the website. GelTech Solutions. Be sure to watch the video. The guy dips his hand into the gel and puts an acetylene torch to it!


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