Red Dust Used By Firefighters To Put Out Wildfires

So what is the red trail behind planes or the red dust being dropped from helicopters on wildfires and how does it work? The substance is called Foscheck, though is more commonly known as slurry. It is a phosphorous mixture comprised of 85% water, 10% fertilizer (ammonia phosphate and sulfate ions), and 5% minor ingredients (iron oxide for color, clay or bentonite). Its main use is to create containment lines by coating vegetation areas in front of wildfires. Basically, it keeps the fire from spreading.

Fire needs fuel, oxygen, and heat to burn, and water is the best at removing all three components. However, it’s not always the best application. The slurry retardant is better than water during wildfires because of its sticky property. Water would run down hillsides, evaporate quicker, and soak into the ground, while the slurry sticks to the vegetation and ground.

Here’s how it works…

When the fire interacts with the retardant, a chemical reaction occurs which creates only carbon and water, ultimately preventing flammable combustion. So pilots do not actually drop it on the fire (as it may appear when you see it on television news coverage), but they drop it around the fire to prevent it from spreading. Slurry also aids in cooling the fire so firefighters can get closer to the fire in order to extinguish it.

Why is slurry red in color?

A red dye is added so the firefighting crews on the ground can see the areas it has been dropped. When an area is red, it is protected and firefighters can begin creating “firelines” around the red slurry. This is when they clear flammable materials (vegetation, brush, etc.) from a strip of land, giving the area little to no potential to burn. The vibrant red color also allows tankers to visually note the areas that have already been protected so they can drop more slurry where it is needed.

Once slurry coats the vegetation, the water evaporates and the mixture stays, leaving behind only the fertilizer which is absorbed into the ground. If a large rain storm occurs, the slurry washes away leaving behind fertilizer that actually helps restore the land and vegetation affected by the fire. Slurry is completely safe for human contact but can be harmful to animals (including fish), which is why there are no-drop zones. These no-drop zones are located in areas that have sensitive plants, vegetation, animals and bodies of water. Creating these zones are the only precautions authorities have taken to protect the land and wildlife.

If any of your property has had the slurry dropped on it, it is advised to wash it away as the red dye can stain. Cleaning up the slurry also ensures pets are safe and helps make certain that buildings, other construction materials, and plants are not permanently stained. This process is not recommended to be done using soap as it can actually cause further damage. SOS Solutions can schedule reputable contractors for you that have successfully cleaned Foscheck (slurry) from roofs, homes, buildings, gazebos, patio covers, decks, pools, walls, fences, trees, shrubs, plants, driveways, walkways, and lawns.

Due to winds often associated with wildfires, it is not uncommon for ash from a wildfire to enter the interior of a home or attic when a wildfire occurs within close proximity. Once the fire is extinguished, it may take time for the smoke odor from the burned hillside surrounding your home to dissipate. This usually occurs after a rainstorm. However, if the smoke odor inside your home is still lingering, there are contractors that specialize in cleaning ash or the black soot residue that can settle on horizontal surfaces on floors, in window and door tracks, and on the personal property and furniture in your home. These certified contractors use special equipment and a specific cleaning process that can rid any residual smoke odor as well.

If smoke residue or a smoke odor remains in your home or your property has been covered with slurry, the property insurance policy you carry on your home should cover the needed cleaning. In this case, you may want to contact your insurance agent, broker or insurance company to submit a claim if the damage exceeds your policy’s deductible.

So if you own a home where a wildfire has occurred within a few miles of its location and you have sustained damage from slurry, fire, soot or smoke odor, rely on SOS Solutions  to schedule reputable contractors that specialize in restoring your home back to normal. 

Call us at 1-888-589-1868 or request to schedule a reputable contractor from our website.

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