Use of Mulchers for Fire Line Construction Rory ThompsonResearcher Wildfire Fires Operations Research CentreFERIC Western Division
The purpose of this presentation is to compare and explore the use of Mulchers and Dozers on the fire line. Both machines are in fire line toolbox however they provide us with a different product.
D6N 145 HP Blade Width 3.2 meter LGP PSI 4.8
D7G 200 HP Blade Width 3.2 Meters
Pro’s of using Dozers on fire line Two Dozers(D-6,D-7) can build between 1,500 to 10,000 meters of line on the average in a 10 hour day depending on resistance to control (Light fuels to Heavy fuels). Continuity in crown and ground fuels is broken. Bare mineral soil exposed. Dozer line provides access,can build stream crossing and escape routes for men and equipment. Able to work in big timber Ability to build a safety zone quickly during an emergency
Con’s of using Dozers on Fire Line The high cost of fire line reclamation Fires starting in the debris piles. If the fire jumps the line the resistance to control is high for ground crews to put the fires out in the debris pile. Compaction of soils making it hard for vegetation to get established. Erosion of soils on slopes creating possible siltation in streams. Debris piles could be a barrier to large animal movements if left after a fire. Requires a semi-truck to haul to site.
GT 13 Medium Duty 125 HP Mulching blade width 2.0 meters 13,000lbs
GT 18 medium duty 190 HP Mulching head width 2.2 meters Weight: 19,900 lbs
GT Heavy Duty 225 HP Mulching head width 2.2 meters
CM475 Mulcher 400 HP Mulching head Width 2.75 meters
GT 50 Super Duty 550 HP Mulching head width 2.75 m 34,000 lbs
C600 Bull 600 Hp Mulching head Width 2.75 meters
Mulchers current use in fire protection Thinning Debris Disposal
This is an example of a fire break using a mulcher, this was done along the Wild Horse Kinky road. Timings showed that is would take 4 hours/km. For one mulcher(400hp).
Pro’s of using Mulchers to build fire line One mulcher can build approximately 5,450 meters of line (5 meter width) on the average in a 10 hour day depending on resistance to control (Based on timings in Light fuels to Heavy fuels). No large piles of debris to deal with during or after the fire Does not tear up root system, no or little erosion problems Can tow on a goose neck trailer with a pick-up truck Low ground pressure 2-3.5 psi. No or little reclamation required after the fire Faster re-growth of vegetation on disturbed sites Weight of the smaller/medium mulchers show that they could be air lifted into remote areas with heavy helicopters to build fire line. Up to 9090 kg (20,000 lbs).
Cons of using Mulchers for building fire lines May take longer to built line to ensure there are no excessive bungee sticks that may pose as a safety hazard to the line workers. Slow in large timber Fire Crews can not work within 200 meters due to flying debris Mulchers have never been used to build fire line on an active fire in Alberta.
Summary Both the dozers and mulchers have a place on the fire line. The dozers have been used in the past and have proven to be an effective tool for building fire line. Mulchers used as a thinning and fire break tool has shown us that it does have the capabilities for building fire line on active fires. Mulchers should be tested as a possible fire line construction tool working with dozers on active fires. Mulchers could be used with a hand burning crew as opposed to a ground crew building fire line.