The city of Wilmington Delaware FD is currently dealing with a very large mulch fire. Its about 100 x 100 and of course high winds. My fire department used to run up into the Kennett Square/Avondale area for mushroom fires. Basically mulch that smells like 3 weeks of left over CRAP.

The usual way to fight these fires are to deluge them with water and have dozers open them up.

2 questions-

1- Has anyone tried using a straight top to penetrate to the seat of the fire with a high volume engine? I'm thinking a squrt type peice that could get close without placing FF's in danger.

B- Has anyone ever used a large piercing nozzle like they have at airports. Or even a snozzle?


Side story, We had a run with a 2 engine assist on a mushroom fire. We placed our squrt at the bottom of the 30 foot cliff to fight the fire. The water ended up coming back down the cliff and flooding the area to about 2 feet. So now we have two engines in poop water, 20 members walking around in poop water.  The firehouse stunk like crap for two weeks and we could only send 5 sets of gear to get cleaned at a time. Needless to say our assist calls declined for awhile.

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Never dealt with mushroom fires but have dealt with plenty of mulch and hay fires.


As you said, equuipment to open them up is critically important unless you want to beat the beee-geeez-guzzz out of your men. Instead of large amounts of water, why not Class A foam? Do you have any pumpers capable of delivering Class A foam through handlines or even master stream or aerial streams available?


While I understand there is a cost to Class A foam, there is also a cost to having personnel - career and volunteer - on operations for an extended period. Fuel and operating costs for engines, fatigue and inavailablity for other calls, plus the increased likelihood of inujries due to fatigue, and quite frankly, boredom are all issues that can easily justify the cost of Class A foam on these somewhat "valueless fires".

When we get a hay or mulch fire we try to get a loader tractor to go in and bring out a bucket of material at a time. It is easy to keep the tractor cool by washing it down when it back's out and you don't use much water. Putting water on a hay fire without tearing it apart makes it become a multi day fire because all it will do is smolder.Also when we get done we buy the farmer or munipality new oil and air filters for their equipment.

Hope this helps.

foam dude lots of foam use to see these type fires all the time in Texas and foam is the best way to put them out

We have used piercing tips before. They work pretty well. Class a foam is a good option and you may want to check out the Fire Ice it is a solution that when added to water turns into a gel and smothers the fire. Have not used it have seen it used and seems to work pretty good.

use foam or heavy equipment. if you use a straight tip you could end up blowing smoldering mulch material onto a nearby pile of similar material.For round hay bales I dont believe a straight tip will penetrate at all. I have heard that a piercing nozzle will work on hay bales but none of the departments around here have one so I dont know for sure

The only hay fire I have fought was a trailer load inside a sealed building. The first crew made entry and ventilated and started spraying it down. Once the LEL was low enough we went in and just pulled it apart spraying hot spots as we went. I belive the same principal would work outside, spray it and pull apart. A local mulch company had a fire and they used a back hoe to move the mulch and spread it out and then it was soaked down.

Mulch fires, lots and lots of water, with Class A foam, plus commandeering or having the company using their backhoes or loaders to move and spread the smoldering material to facilitate wetting. We have tried to use piercing nozzles. A total waste of time.

For hay fires, it depends whether they are in a barn our outside. Outside, the fastest way is to unroll or open the bales, fluff them up to get air, and let them free burn. We use very little water on hay bales. Even partially burned bales are no good for livestock. 

Inside the barn fires, are more water and labor intensive. But if there is equipment available, we cool them enough to get the tractor in and remove the smoldering bales, and perhaps saving a lot of bales and the barn. I have on occasion, pulled the wall on the unburnt side, to get the unburned bales out. That's what works for us.

We've had good luck using a piercing nozzle in combination with foam on hay fires. Place the tip of the nozzle deep inside the bale and fill it with class A foam from the inside out, then move on to the next one. You'll know a bale is saturated when foam oozes out on all sides.

As others have stated a front end loader is probably your best tool on a mulch fire. One load at a time. On a windy day have a couple of brush trucks downwind from the poop to catch spot fires. Mmmmmmmm Smells nice, doesn't it?

Deep seated fires like this are hard to extinguish. In the past I have used foam on 1% to seep into the material and get to the hot spots. This also prevents air from accessing the fire. Put a coat of foam over it, let it sink in, then get a backhoe to get any remaining embers. Used it a few times and it works. One thing to think about. The surface is still hot and even though you don't see anything, it is still hot to walk on.

I would use a ladder truck get right over top of it douse it with water and then as others hhave said use foam on low percentage and have escavater pull apart the pile

Joe, I've done that before, but the water doesn't penetrate the hay and will continue to burn. Deep seated fires are hard to extinguish with surface nozzles alone. We actually had guys feet burned while standing in water above these types of fires.

I understand where you are coming from there. No sense in putting people into that situation, thats where the excavator comes in and pulls apart the pile.  A few hand lines to foam what is being pulled apart, and ladder truck to advance and cool the hot conditions for the excavator...


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