High-tech firefighting tools - like satellite imagery, fire behavior modeling, fire-retardant materials and water delivery systems - continue to improve, but the most crucial elements are still wildland firefighters and hand tools.
A pulaski features an axe blade and narrow trenching blade fitted to a straight handle. It’s useful for grubbing, trenching and chopping while creating firelines.
A linear fire barrier, cleared of vegetation and scraped down to the mineral soil, to prevent or deter the advancement of a wildfire.
All wildland firefighters wear fire-resistant clothing made of a special high-strength, synthetic material known as Nomex.
An aluminized, tent-like covering, around 7′ long, 4′ wide and 2′ high, offering emergency protection by means of reflecting radiant heat and providing a volume of breathable air if the firefighter gets trapped by the wildfire. The fire shelter is the last line of defense when caught in a fire.
Bulldozers and Tractor Plows
Bulldozers and tractor plows are machines that use blades to clear vegetation and construct firelines. In terrains they can access, these machines create firebreaks faster than human firefighters.
Large planes, fitted with tanks, provide direct support to firefighters on the ground by dropping several thousand gallons of water or chemical retardant ahead of an advancing wildfire.
Engines can carry 250 to 750 gallons of water and several hundred feet of hose to directly attack wildfires. Some can also spray foam and retardant chemicals on homes and other structures.
Helicopters support firefighters on the ground by dropping water, foam or retardant on or near the fire from suspended buckets. Helicopters are also used to quickly carry firefighters to areas not accessible by vehicles and provide reconnaissance.
A collapsible bucket slung below a helicopter, used to dip water from a variety of water sources, like a nearby river or lake, to drop on the fire.