Dirt throwing machine

Dirt throwing machine

One of the first things I learned as a wildland firefighter was how to accurately and effectively use a firefighting shovel to throw dirt as a means to cool or slow down a flare up on a wildfire. I could even hit a burning area on a tree 20 or 25 feet above the ground. Today, many shovels on hand crews have been replaced by Combi Tools which are useful for a “combination” of tasks, but have a smaller spoon area and are less efficient for throwing dirt.

Dirt throwing machine
Dirt throwing machine by EXiTT

But the prize-winner for dirt throwing has to go to a piece of equipment developed by a company in Spain, EXiTT. The name is based on “extinción incendios tierra-tierra”, Spanish for ground to ground fire extinguisher. The company has three prototypes for machines that excavate dirt and throw huge quantities of it at a vegetation fire. Covering a fire with dirt will rarely extinguish it, but it can slow it to a smoldering state, making it much easier to control. You may have to later expose the burning material in order to completely extinguish the fire.

Dirt throwing machine
Dirt throwing machine by EXiTT

It is not exactly a MIST or “minimum impact suppression technique“, but looks like it may be useful in some situations where environmental disturbance is not an issue. It reminds us of a machine we wrote about a few months ago that digs dirt, vacuums it up, and then blasts it at a wildfire.

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+