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'Like a breathing animal': A fire's power can be used against it with spray tool

Posted at 6:48 PM, Jan 10, 2024
  • Howard Fire Rescue battalion chiefs carry a tool in their pick-up truck to help fight a fire solo, if needed, until other crews arrive
  • The tool is called an ultra high pressure system
  • Watch the video to see how it works

A fire is like a "breathing animal," said Howard Firefighter Doug Eno.

And the pathway a fire uses to "breathe" oxygen, Eno said, can be tapped into with a special tool to send in water to battle the blaze.

The tool is called an ultra high pressure system.

"...[I]f you can lay humidity onto [the fire], you're going to make the fire much lazier," said Eno, who is a consultant for a company that sells the product.

The system sprays droplets that are smaller than those from a regular fire hose, which enables the water to hop on the pathway the fire is using to pull in oxygen, Eno said.

"If [the fire] is drawing in moisture, it's suppressing the fire and making it a lot more safe," Eno said.

He estimated about 6,000 fire departments nationwide, including Howard Fire Rescue, have the tool.

Based on numbers from FEMA, that means about 1-in-5 departments nationally are using it.

Neither Green Bay Metro Fire Department nor the Appleton Fire Department has the tool, according to representatives of those respective departments.

It was used at a house fire in Howard last week, and without it, the home's residents would not have been able to remain in the home after the fire was put out, said Howard Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Stefan Schaefer.

"With [the tool], we don't have the water damage that we would get with a hose line off the engine," Schaefer said.

Schaefer and his fellow battalion chiefs have the tool in the pick-up truck they use to lead the way to to a fire scene.

A battalion chief could, depending on the situation, operate it on their own to fight a fire before more firefighters arrive at the scene.

"Now knowing that we have another tool that can protect... property and protect lives, as a resident of Howard as well, that makes me feel good," Schaefer said.