Lesson learned, flare launching

A firefighter was injured while using a flare sold by FireQuick.

The FireQuick company, sometimes referred to as Quoin, sells a launcher that is a modified starter pistol which fires .22 caliber blank cartridges. You place the flare, which looks a little like a short fusee, into the oversized barrel. When the cartridge fires, it propels the flare and ignites a 4-second fuse. The flare they call the Hotshot will travel about 300-325 feet according to the company. The FireQuick web site includes this statement about the Hotshot flare:

This flare is to be launched only and is NEVER to be ignited by hand; serious injury may occur if hand-ignition is attempted.

FireQuick imageFireQuick makes two kinds of flares that can be launched: the Stubby (see below) and the Hotshot. They also make hand-thrown flares they call “Big Shot” and “Chubbie”.

The following lesson learned, posted HERE, raises a lot of questions.

====================================================

LESSONS LEARNED
HOTSHOT FLARE

FireQuick’s Hotshot flare

Date & Time: August 7, 2009
Location: Bear Canyon, San Carlos Agency BIA
Employee: Firefighter
Reason: Suppressing Wildland Fire

Details:
A firefighter was injured using a Hotshot flare which ignited in their hand after the fuse was lit.  The firefighter is ok at this time, but has sustained burns on his left fingers and palm.  The firefighter was not wearing gloves at the time when the incident occurred.

Lesson(s) Learned:

  • Always wear required Personal Protective Equipment; eye protection, gloves, ear protection, long-sleeve shirt (sleeves rolled down) and pants.  Clothing must be approved flame resistant fabric.
  • Wear leather non-gauntlet gloves to prevent burning slag from touching your skin.
  • If cap of flare comes loose or falls off discard in burn area and let others know of location.
  • This flare is to be used only with the firequick launcher and NEVER ignited by hand as serious injury may occur if hand-ignition is attempted.
  • Develop JHA for this device and ensure others review it before using this type of firing device.

===================================================

The document does not explain how the flare came to be in the firefighter’s hand. Was it a mis-fire that they removed from the launcher, or were they trying to use the flare without the launcher by holding it in their hand?

Does anyone have any experience using one of these Hotshot flares without the launcher?

Wildlandfire.com has some photos of a launcher that shattered when a rocket scientist attempted to launch a fusee in the device.

“Retired Flares”

The FireQuick web site has some interesting information about “retired flares”. Their 2.5-inch flares that exceed the 3-year shelf life “should be recognized as a potential for unusually energetic behavior”. The Dual-Stubby flare only launched about 80% of the time.

The “Stubby” flare

Here is a photo of the “Stubby” which is launched from a launcher having a larger diameter barrel.

Stubby flare
"Stubby" flare

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+