Jerry Martin: No fires over 10 acres
By removing necessary oxygen, water extinguishes fire. A light rain won’t completely put out a forest fire, but moderate or heavy rain will.
If we use our resources wisely, we can produce man-made “rain” in enough quantity to quench all forest fires before they reach 10 acres. We have the knowledge and ability. We just need more aircraft. And the decisive will to make it happen.
Currently, California has about 50 helicopters converted to drop large amounts of water on fires. And we have a few planes that do the same. And other planes converted to drop fire retardant. This is a start, but not enough to prevent forest fires from spreading to thousands of acres, killing many people and destroying thousands of buildings, all of which costs billions of dollars. Our fleet of fire fighting aircraft has been inadequate suppressing recent fires.
And with climate change, this destructive pattern will continue and grow.
Most of our fleet of fire fighting aircraft is old military planes and helicopters converted to fight fires. There are now many more aircraft, too old for conventional warfare, that could be useful if converted to stifling massive fires. We citizens paid with our taxes to build these old aircraft. Let’s get some real use out of them now, by converting them. They’ll last many years and repay the investment many times.
We have satellites that can detect fires when they start and are small and controllable. Our weather instruments can measure wind speed and direction so can accurately predict a fire’s direction. If we had about 600 water carrying helicopters and approximately 300 fire fighting planes, stationed around California, coordinated by a sophisticated central command, they could release huge amounts of water on all small fires to aggressively extinguish them before they grow to massive destruction, like recent fires have done. With practice they might drop a load every 20 seconds. They won’t need to fly far or high or fast. The job needs mules, not race horses. Better yet, we build hundreds of state-of-the-art drones that can carry and drop large quantities of water accurately. This simulated rain would solve big future problems.
Preventive measures like the recent and future PG&E power outages would become unnecessary. Our home fire insurance rates would stop rising out of reach. Peace of mind would be restored and millions of people and businesses wouldn’t leave what’s becoming a third world country.
I don’t have any expertise on this subject, nor do I know the details that will be necessary to making this solution effective. I leave that to the professionals. But I know, as does all of humanity, that an adequate amount of water quickly dumped on a fire will extinguish it, preventing its growth. That’s enough for my advocacy.
California government should seriously consider adopting this effective paradigm, recognizing we have an opponent, fire, that must and can be contained. Kamala Harris or Tom Steyer would pick up a lot of support for the presidency should they advocate this plan. Couldn’t hurt Nancy Pelosi’s or Diane Feinstein’s or Gavin Newsom’s reputation either.
If the feds or California won’t do it, maybe one or two local billionaires would fund it. Calling Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos or Mark Zuckerberg or Bill Gates. Wake up, California, this is a solvable problem. Let’s build this Fire Force. Let’s learn from nature.
Jerry Martin lives in Grass Valley.
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