The Big Lie About Fire Retardant

A reader writes, “Doesn’t fire retardant kill fish?”

No it doesn’t. In one case in history, when an entire truckload of the concentrate drained into a stream after the truck drove off the road and over the embankment, a few fish were killed.

Never in history is there one single case of even a single fish being killed by aerially-applied fire retardant.

Never ever ever. It’s a total LIE that fire retardant kills fish.

What kills fish is fire (and firebombing).

Wait, you say, how can fire kill a fish under the water?

Because forest fires burn so hot they sometimes boil streams or at least raise the temperature of the water enough to kill fish.

That’s right, sports fans. Fires burn right to the water’s edge. This may shock you, but riparian vegetation isn’t fireproof!

The new rule prohibits fire retardant in so-called riparian zones 300 feet on either side of streams. So that vegetation will burn and the streams will boil.

Fire also creates ash, which when wet becomes lye, and gets into the water and raises the pH. Fire turns fresh water alkaline via the ash, and that kills fish.

Fire also burns the humus layer down to mineral soil, which then erodes into streams — killing fish by reducing the dissolved oxygen and coating fish gills so the fish strangulate.

The fishing is nil after a forest fire. Nobody goes into a burn zone to catch fish, because the fish are dead. The plaintiffs in the lawsuit claimed that fire retardant use ruined their fishing experience (no kidding, it’s in the plea) but the opposite is true — fire kills fish, fire retardant saves them.

Which is all well known to the USFS, but they are on a mission to incinerate America’s forests, and so they kowtowed to the fire retardant LIE.

There was nothing scientific about the fire retardant decision. It was pure politics — and arson politics at that. They are arsonists in a big way. Million-acre arsonists. Arsonists who are burning the Federal Estate with glee and abandon.

Which is why the USFS shuns fire retardant and embraces napalm as the their treatment of choice for our forests.

What ought to be banned in the US Forest Service. Keep them by law no nearer than 30 miles from any public forestland. Dump retardant on them if they get any closer.

20 Apr 2012, 8:07am
by bear bait

Fire retardant a mostly liquid source of phosphorous, a mineral that is known to quickly bind itself to soil particles, and be tightly bound by electron exchange to the point where maybe less than one ppm of P is available to plants, even where the soil might contain as much as 300 ppm.

Or so my soil analysis tells me. At the blueberry farm we are currently using fulvic acid and some humic products to encourage release of otherwise unavailable P and N in the soil as part of our fertilizer program.

The only way a chemical can kill fish is to either poison them by interfering with their body chemistry, or to remove the oxygen from the water, and thus suffocate them. Too much N or P would just grow more plants, except the dosage from fire retardant is too little to have any effect, and the fact that the water is running off to the ocean as fast as gravity and resistance will allow — disbursing the retardant pretty quickly.

A fire, however, will change the whole chemistry and erosion budget of the watershed. Not only do you lose physical character to the stream profile by erosion and loss of coarse woody debris, which again and again looses a load of retained sediments down the stream in runoff events, but it changes all the pool-riffle relationships. Holding pools get filled as do stair-stepped waterways that allow fish to “ladder” their way up small tributaries. Those are lost and the stream becomes a sluice way, which does inhibit or prevent fish from upstream access.

The negatives of fire on the landscape are myriad, and if the area was “special” enough to be designated as protected habitat, how does fire improve that? It does not, not in the short term. Habitats are lost, diversity is lost, and species are lost.

Fire is benign when controlled by season and ignition, when it creeps along the ground and stays out of the crowns. Holocaust fire, igniting the canopy with aerial firebombing, is just Hiroshima without the high levels of radiation — albeit radiation levels do increase as mineral soils are exposed to the elements, having lost the protection of the duff and the organic fines in the top 3 to 18 inches of mostly mineral soil during the fire, and more afterwards due to erosion.

The USFS, prompted by the ENGO’s and Judge Molloy, have banned fire retardant and adopted canopy firebombing. How does that make sense?



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