Patent application for a disposable air tanker

Patent application disposable air tanker
Patent application

John A. Hoffman, who appears to be associated with Fire Termination Equipment, Inc., has applied for a U. S. Patent for a very different type of air tanker. This air tanker would be an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that would be transported by a mother ship and released near the fire. It would then be piloted remotely from either the mother ship or from the ground, and after dropping retardant on the fire, would land to reload, or might be a single use aircraft and would be “destroyed in the release step”. In the latter case the UAV would be “possibly constructed of frangible material so as to crash into the fire area”.

The patent application includes two options for transporting one or more UAVs to the fire area.

  1. Externally mounted to the aircraft to the “underbelly, side of the transport aircraft, or the like”.
  2. “The present invention also contemplates that one or more UAVs can be placed within the transport aircraft, and either released from a rear exit, such as a B-727 having a rear opening door, or ejected from a side interface wherein the transport aircraft includes side-access doors fitted with a mechanism including rails or the like to move in position the UAV from inside of the transport aircraft to outside of the transport aircraft for launch or jettison.”

If this invention ever sees the light of day, which is EXTREMELY DOUBTFUL, firefighters will see air tankers crashing into the ground around them as the aircraft are “destroyed in the release step”. And this would be a benefit to firefighters, the public, and the environment how, exactly? I can’t even imagine what the cost per drop would be of a system like this. And then there are the indirect costs of removing the wreckage, repairing the environmental damage, and payment of the death benefits to the families of any firefighters that might be killed by the crashing aircraft.

As we said earlier, the inventor, Mr. Hoffman, appears to be associated with Fire Termination Equipment, Inc., according to the patent application. The company has an unusual and very vague idea to develop a Rapid Aerial Inferno Neutralization System (RAIN) that, according to the web site:

…delivers massive payloads (of artificial rain) to fires with surgical precision, and it can be deployed 24/7 and in any weather, including winds and smoke.

This RAIN system may be the same one that is described in the patent application, but the web site offers no details about how it would work. The site does have a some information about experiments conducted with small UAVs.

We put these concepts into our “lame-ass ideas” category.

Truck dispenses dry chemical to suppress wildfires

Velocity FireForce's truck-mounted dry chemical system. Photo: Velocity FireForce
Velocity FireForce’s truck-mounted dry chemical system. Photo: Velocity FireForce

That headline might be a little optimistic, but Velocity FireForce has invented a method for applying very large quantities of a dry chemical with the objective of suppressing wildfires.

Their web site (warning–a video will start automatically; the same video as above) does not provide any details about what the chemical is, or what the environmental effects would be. Aside from the environmental issues, many wildland fires occur during wind events, which would be very problematical for applying what amounts to dust.

We put this in the category of “lame-ass ideas” for suppressing wildfires.

A new way to transport water to fires

Someone whose name I believe is Steve Shoap, judging from the email address he leaves, keeps leaving comments attached to various articles here on Wildfire Today attempting to promote his invention. We have not approved any of the comments for publication because our policy is to not bother our readers with spam and unsolicited advertisements.

But this invention of his is supposed to be a “new way to fight wildfires”. It involves truck-mounted reels of large diameter hose (LDH) that has high voltage electric power wires embedded into the walls of the LDH.  An electric generator energizes the wires which power water pumps at intervals along the hose. (And we all know it’s a good idea to have water and high voltage electricity in close proximity.)


He estimates the cost for one mile of the system would be $210,000 including the generator.

Disregarding the water/electricity combination for a moment, there may be some special situations or types of fires where a system like this would be useful, but generally, getting water to a wildfire so that it can be utilized by firefighters is not the biggest factor that prevents wildfires from being controlled.

What do you think about this new invention?

Rocket-launched nozzle

Some “rocket scientists” have designed a device that supposedly would use compressed gas to launch a nozzle with a connected fire hose into a burning building, after which the hose would be charged and the nozzle would flop around destroying everything in the room before finally being pulled out the window by the weight of the charged line, causing the firefighters below to run like hell.

Firing that thing right next to your face, and then having 100 feet of fire hose dragged at Mach 3 across the side of your head, would no doubt give you a story to tell around the fire house for years to come. At least the guy in the photo is wearing SOME personal protective equipment… GLOVES!

I especially like the way the “firefighter” is carrying the hatchet, slipped casually through his belt, ready to put out the fire with a few swift chops or perform a do-it-yourself kidney biopsy.