Tom's Blog

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Getting ready for burns

Burn season is just about on us, and it is time to get ready. Among other things, we need to get our equipment ready, and to set our fire breaks.

Important pieces of equipment are our two pumper units, one for the pick-up truck, and one for the Kawasaki Mule. Installing the unit in the truck is a four-person job, and fortunately I was able to co-opt some strong people. The photo to the right shows Kathie and Denny fastening the unit to the truck, and Willis and David getting the unit line up. Peter was handling the tools.

This unit, designed by Tom Wise, has 300 feet of high-pressure hose and a 100-gallon tank. It belongs to the Prairie Enthusiasts but stays at Pleasant Valley Conservancy for use in burns on the northwest side of Dane County. (TPE has several other pumpers for the Mounds View area.)

This unit is great for controlling burns on our south slope, as the hose will reach most of the way to the top. The photo below shows the unit in action.

One time a group of us had a discussion about how far up the hill the pumper unit would carry water. Since atmospheric pressure is involved, is there some limit? In one burn we were able to get decent water pressure at least 200 feet above the truck, which we decided was pretty good.

Most of our fire breaks are already in, as we use them as hiking trails and service roads. However, one fire break we have to put in every year separates Unit 7 on the south slope from Unit 18, which faces east into the Pocket Prairie. In the map below, Unit 7 is pink and Unit 18 orange.

Susan and Marci put that fire break in on Friday. The photo below shows them at the bottom of the break, just after they finished. A Stihl brush cutter with a triangular blade was used to cut the vegetation and a Stihl high-power leaf blower was used to clean the cut debris off the break. If you look carefully, you can see the fire break snaking up the hill.


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