Fighting Fire with Fog

Read a story today in Wired while traveling by bus through the Hungarian countryside about firefighting. It seems nothing has really changed in hundreds of years until now…they put wet stuff on the hot stuff to put out the fire. But todays fabrics are made of polymers that give off noxious gases and when you dowse a flame, huge pillars of steam pour out, often cooking the men behind the hoses. The worst part of the fire is the toxic gas, not the flames.

So this fire chief in a town outside of Portland Oregon has developed a new method, based on the experiences of the Swedes. They shoot a burst of fog pulsing just a second at a time toward the flame to cool down the noxious gases…this way these poisons, which are the biggest killer of firefighters die down before they attack the flames. But in NYC the chiefs just replaced the fog nozzles with straight up water nozzles, saying it takes less work to use them. There is a controversy over this new way to battle blazes with both sides insisting their way is the best. Wired is famous for bringing arcane issues like this to the masses…well at least to me and my blog readers.