Tractor plows

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Tractor plows are heavily used in the southeast, but many firefighters in other parts of the country are not familiar with this type of equipment. A plow can rapidly construct a fireline 6-8′ wide in almost all fuel conditions as long as it is not steep or rocky–which eliminates much of the western United States. Some plows are mounted on the front of a dozer, but many are rear-mounted.

And then there is the substantial disturbance to the ground with which many jurisdictions have a problem. It can be difficult to rehab a tractor plow fireline. It’s not exactly a “light hand on the land”.

Here are a couple of photos I took while assigned to the Blackjack Bay fire on the Okeefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia and Florida in 2002.

The photo below show a rear-mounted unit that has wheels which can be raised when plowing operations begin.

The front of the plow. Those tires look like they lead a hard life.


Tractor plows have not changed a lot in the last 50 years. Here is drawing for patent #2990632 filed in 1958.