Wildland fire fighting equipment

   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #1  


Elite Member
Mar 30, 2017
Northern California
Branson 3520h
I live in fire country in California - tbh, where isn't it fire country in this state? but seriously, we've had substantial fires in the general region every year, Paradise burned down a brief ways off that way, and another fire singed my neighbor's barn and strongly threatened our property as well.

I'd like to set up a fire fighting trailer, with 250-500 gallon water tank, a pump, and a hose reel - basically, something like this place carries. I sent them an email to inquire as to prices and availability, but in the meantime I'm wondering if anyone here has done something similar (even if not quite so pretty).

Things that seem like good features:
  • Everything attached to a trailer
    • Can pull with tractor - ball on drawbar
    • Can pull with pickup; possibly park truck with it near where tractor is operating if there's concern that tractor activity may cause a fire, like mowing in late summer when it's 8% humidity
  • High pressure gas pump
    • 100+ psi for distance
  • May need more structure for securing the tank for rough terrain
  • 1" fire hose reel for output
  • Suction hose + screen for pulling from the pond or irrigation canal that's on the border of my property
    • Would be nice if the pump can be used to refill the trailer tank with water from the pond or irrigation canal
I've run across the notion of a pressure relief valve which allows you to close the discharge hose without killing the pump, and apparently some setups have the pressure relief discharge back to the intake, but I'm not sure about that; otherwise the pressure relief just spews (potentially to a hose that jets it away from your pump area).
   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #2  
Not sure how much firefighting you can do with 500 gallons, but I've heard that in Canada, they use a propane powered generator (in case the power goes out) to power a pump from the lake (in your case, your well) to send water to golf course irrigation mounted on the roof to soak the roof and surrounding grounds.

   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #3  
Military Surplus or other Government agencies are a great source of tanks, trailers, pumps and generators. Also, your local fire fighting agencies or Emergency Management organizations may be able to offer advice or leads.
   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #5  
I think it depends on what you are trying to do.

I think that tanks on trailers are great for spot fires, and for foam/retardant/drenching things. I have a small fire pump for wetting the area around the house and for putting out house fires. Having high pressure is great for slopes, or putting water on the far side of a building, but you will need more than a few hundred gallons for most things. Even a fire truck is only a 2-3,000 gallons.

BUT...I think fighting a wild land fire isn't in the cards. You need man power, lots of water, space, and luck of the weather and favorable terrain to fight wild land fires. I have watched CalFire fight numerous fires around here, and it takes lots of work. In the last five years, we have had fires within a mile and a half every year, and twice had it burn to the property line. Last year, it took literal hundreds of CalFire trucks, and thousands of firefighters with D12 dozers, a 747, and lots of other planes to create and hold a fire line a mile and a half from here. And that was burning brush and grass for the most part. Forest fires are even more intense.

We get evacuated here before we can really fight fires. Only arson, and roadside fires are on us before the fire crews get here. The slopes here are enough to have grass burn vertically 2-300', 1000' on the ground in less than thirty seconds. I don't fight that. It is too fast, and too hot.

Cows are our number one fire crew to keep the grass short enough not to sustain fire.

You can harden up your home/buildings, get a fire resistant roof, deck, and putting fine screens on all vents and gutters, remove anything flammable for 100' around your house and things start to look better.

I do have sprinklers on a timer to wet, and keep wet, the wild land closest to the house to reduce the fire intensity in case of fire near the house. But that's just 10-15 minutes every six hours. In most directions around the house we have at least thirty feet of bare ground, because I have realized that here I don't fire fires. I am either prepared or I'm not.

Roof top sprinklers are big in Canada where they often have unlimited water (lakes), but you need to be able to run the pump without power for days, and have the water to do it.

I agree with @Doofy that local fire departments are a great resource for advice, and sources of equipment.

So...what are you trying to do?

All the best, Peter
   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #6  
I live in NE WA state. We will usually have wildfires in all directions, in the fall. Seven years ago my son and I got to see a wildfire - up close. Watermelon Hill wildfire, July, 2014. At the very last minuet the wind changed direction and this fire just missed the west end of my property.

There were, at least, 100 fire fighters working this blaze. It was eventually stopped by farmers - big tractors - big disk harrows. We watched it come directly at us from atop a nearby hill ( called a bunn).

It became VERY obvious - my 100 foot wide fire break would be of absolutely no use. The wind was propelling "fire bombs" up to a quarter mile ahead of the burning front.

I was ordered, by the State Police, to leave my property. My son drove my truck - I drove my tractor -- we moved to an adjoining neighbors yard.

After all was said and done - I had only one saving grace. I had good insurance and could have rebuilt if everything burned.

From this one experience I've had - I will NEVER attempt to control a wildfire - in ANY way. Period.

A wildfire is not a DIY project for a homeowner.
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   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #7  
As a side note - I have a ten acre lake on my property. Approximately - 130 million+ gallons of water. The fire fighters "dipped" out of my lake with their helicopters to fight this fire. This was exciting to watch also.
   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #8  
I’m almost complete with my setup using two 375 gallon IBC totes on a 7k lbs rated former military 4 x 10 utility trailer that was used for many things back in the day. It doubles as a logging trailer in the spring.

The pump was plumbed with a bypass pressure relief valve so I wouldn’t need to worry about shutting the pump off. I don’t let the pump run too long while in bypass mode.

What’s left for me to do is to add a booster reel with a 1” hose. Currently, it has a 3/4” commercial grade garden hose which puts out quite well and I could operate it in my hands while driving it (pump & roll). The icing would be a foam injection setup which would drastically increase the usefulness of this fire trailer. I also have two 100’ 1 1/2” fire hoses (not pictured) and plan to build a simple box/carrier to hold the flat hoses, shovel & rake, etc.



   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #9  
Masonry/Concrete Building Construction in Europe with triple pane window on roll down fire doors can make or break... Tile roof also help...

Even with lightning strike rafter may burn but that's it.

Foam and unlimited water have saved Northern CA homes but now hear foam is toxic?

Some luxury homes in the canyon have large pools with duel pumps... gas and electric or some combination with piped and hoses...
   / Wildland fire fighting equipment #10  
What are you looking to do with this trailer? If it’s an actual “forest fire” 500 gallons will do nothing. If it’s for having on stand by for a start up then it may have some value.

Here is a pretty good example of how some things can go from seemingly safe to life threatening when the winds change. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere close to this. These guys are experienced and knew it was coming. What if you didn’t?