BLM Northern CA District
Bureau of Land Management
6640 Lockheed Dr.
Redding, CA 96002
Why fight fire with just water when long-term retardant or foam could be used? Portable retardant base systems remove one of the barriers to using more effective fire fighting retardants. Portable retardant bases can enable aircraft- either fixed or rotary wing-to attack a fire from the closest possible location. This can maximize cost effectiveness and efficiency, especially when used with heavy lift (Type 1) helicopters.
Portable retardant bases mix and distribute long-term retardant to aircraft at locations without a permanent retardant base, locating the retardant base as close to the fire as possible. Ever-increasing environmental concerns can be addressed by careful location of a retardant base, along with using proper procedures in the handling of the retardant. Water intake screens may be required to protect animal life in water sources. Other considerations for choosing a base location include a sufficient water supply and adequate space to provide separation between the water source, mixing tanks, and dip tanks.
Although existing portable bases have been used successfully, increased access is still needed to remote areas. At present, access is limited to improved roads because of the size and weight of the chemical containers and associated equipment. More portable systems could access less improved roads, or even be airlifted by helicopter to areas with no road access. An additional design improvement for the tanks themselves would be sturdy dip tanks with larger openings and more depth.