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Re: [AirborneWindEnergy] Firefighting Kites

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  • dave santos
    Dan,   Thanks for the detailed & very useful critique of the fire fighting kite concept. It was an exercise in imagination in need of reality. You were asked
    Message 1 of 6 , May 22, 2009
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      Dan,
       
      Thanks for the detailed & very useful critique of the fire fighting kite concept. It was an exercise in imagination in need of reality. You were asked on this list for the critical thinking you showed spotting the Magenn fantasy.
       
      Historic & much existing fire fighting is water-based, high risk, & often inadequate. Fire fighting is more fossil fuel & capital sensitive than desirable. Climate change science predicts more fires. Disregarding kites might be negligence.
       
      Pyrocumulus structure looks like standard "explosive" convection, the structure is generally navigable if the aircraft is strong enough, as hurricane flights suggest. Kites can surely deploy as fast as many existing responses, such as moving people into place.
       
      The only reason kites, as cheap sustainable aviation, couldn't chip away at existing fire fighting problem would be for lack of trying, a cultural choice. The daunting challenge of mountain fires with remote water sources is a good one. Would a scale demo of realistic technical difficulty dent your skepticism?
       
      Note that kites can in principle deliver varied materials (how about sand/dirt ?) & bulldoze firebreaks.
       
      daveS
       
      PS Agreed, your tower beats a kite round the homestead, but to travel the world by wind power, leave the tower at home & use kites ;^)
       


      --- On Fri, 5/22/09, Dan Fink <danbob@...> wrote:

      From: Dan Fink <danbob@...>
      Subject: Re: [AirborneWindEnergy] Firefighting Kites
      To: AirborneWindEnergy@yahoogroups.com
      Date: Friday, May 22, 2009, 2:51 PM

      Hello all -- I must assume that I was added to this list for reason, so
      here it is.....

      In addition to being a renewable energy author, I have been a
      firefighter for over 10 years. I am a paid consultant with a variety of
      different fire departments, companies and agencies involved in RE safety
      with fire in urban-interface situations. My article sidebar on off-grid
      PV systems and wildland firefighting is in the current issue of Home
      Power Magazine.

      I think there are some serious misconceptions in some items in this post
      (comments embedded in snipped text below):

      santos137@yahoo. com wrote:
      >

      > Kites can particularly revolutionize the fighting of wild fires since
      > the same high winds that fan flames enable kite work.

      Unstable airmasses are almost always involved in wildland fires. Then
      once a wildfire becomes plume-dominated, the changes in air movement can
      be drastic and violent. If a plume (the center of a Pyrocumulous cloud)
      collapses due to changing weather conditions, downdraft winds of up to
      (and over) 100 mph can start, blowing in all directions at ground level,
      and firefighters have died and will die if not advised. What would a
      straight downward wind burst of 100 mph plus for 10-15 minutes do to a
      fully-laden kite water pumping system?

      Kites could stem
      > fires not otherwise addressable.

      The concept of applying water to a wildfire to extinguish it is a common
      public misconception. All airborne firefighting resources (there are NO
      exceptions) are used to buy time for firefighters on the ground, who are
      cutting a wide fire line down to mineral soil using either shovels,
      Pulaskis, chainsaws, and McLeods (or dozers and feller-bunchers and of
      course the very vulnerable human sawyers and swampers).

      The airborne resource (chopper, heavy tanker, SEAT) 'paints' precision
      lines of retardant for the hand or helitack crew, so that they face 6
      inch flame lengths instead of 6 feet.

      In remote locations fuel supplies limit
      > conventional fire fighting.

      How so? if a wildland fire incident moves even from local to Type 3, you
      won't believe how much diesel and gas arrive on scene how fast at the
      ICP. If it's so remote that no homes are threatened, then why even try
      to put it out?

      Not so with kites which extract energy on
      > site. The very inflow & updrafts of a firestorm can actually enhance
      > kite fire fighting.

      Have you ever watched a Pyrocumulous cloud closely, or been underneath
      one in person? I have. You have NO idea what it's like......Hmmmmm. I'd
      LOVE to fly a kite with anyone under a Pyrocululous, but usually the
      dire situation precludes such frivolity.

      >
      > No current alternative energy technology transports easier or deploys
      > faster than kites, which makes them attractive for emergencies.

      If I get on my radio and say "I need a SEAT right now to paint a line
      between the head of the fire and this house that I am protecting" it's
      here in under 30 minutes with 400 gallons of retardant. The drive time
      for a 'kite crew' to my location is what? Takes over an hour drive from
      town, even at code 3 response. Then add kite deployment time. After that
      long delay, nobody will stop any fires in my remote, heavily wooded,
      mountain area. The faster you hit a wildland fire, the easier it is to
      put out. I'm talking minutes, not hours or days.

      Kite
      > systems replace far more expensive & dangerous helicopters for the
      > firefighting job, & are operable by less trained personnel.

      Helicopters are used in wildland firefighting as a "pinpoint" resource.
      They can drop only a small amount of water, but within 10 feet of where
      it is needed. AGAIN, dropping water on a wildfire to put it out is NOT a
      real-world solution. It does not work. You don't have enough BTUs of
      water to put out even a small wildfire no matter how large your airship
      is. You instead drop water or retardant along open areas to make the
      flames smaller when the hand crew arrives at the painted line to dig
      real line. There are not enough C130s, 747s, and Sikorsky Skycranes on
      earth to actually "extinguish" even a moderately sized wildfire with water.

      A big chopper can suck 1000 gallons of H2O from a pond 15 miles away,
      then dump it within a 10 foot radius of where the ground crew tells them
      to, in under 30 minutes from the initial radio call from IC. How can a
      kite do this? Wildfires are best fought within minutes of their
      ignition, while they are small. Otherwise, all we can do is try to
      contain them.

      Lifter kites
      > used for energy production & kite irrigation pumps could be quickly
      > diverted to a distant fire emergency by conventional transport.

      Energy production is not an issue. Most fire apparatus have PTO
      generators at 20kW and above capacity. In a truly remote situation, why
      even put the fire out? To save trees? Themselves, the public, and
      (lastly) homes are the (in order) priorities of firefighters. Why die
      for a few trees? Dumping water on the trees won't help in the slightest,
      it's all a war of BTUs.

      Property
      > savings from a single successful operation might far exceed the capital
      > cost of the kites.
      >
      > By techniques covered in the "string tripod" post many things are
      > possible. Kite arches strung across the path of a racing wild fire could
      > direct suppression anywhere along a line.

      Under what time frame could firefighting kites to lay fireline be
      deployed? Minutes, hours, days? Who steers them? The "painted" fireline
      must be precise within 100 feet at worst to save a home. Where does the
      water come from? If there's a big water source nearby, it's much cheaper
      to deploy gasoline portapumps at each residence with a sprinkler system.

      Kite lifted & driven aerial
      > cableways can run in any direction from water to fire, even upwind. A
      > fire-hose can be kite lifted over obstacles cross-country to provide
      > continuous flow.

      Wildfires move FAST. How does the FFkite deployment time (including
      driving to the usually remote area of the fire) factor into this? Looks
      to me before you get the kite crew out of bed, the required fireline
      distance that would need to be covered could be miles, and the
      deployment time measured in days or weeks.

      A giant kite, kite-tail, or line-laundry might work
      > as a flame retardant fire-break or simply snuff a localized
      > fire. Firefighters can maintain a safe standoff distance & be more
      > effective.

      Only if it works. If not, your FFs are is BIG trouble and risk of death.
      >

      > Kites can do many other emergency functions, even direct rescue.
      > Evacuating people & property in general disasters like flooding is possible.
      >
      > Application Notes:
      >
      > Almost any surface water will do, even very shallow sources. A
      > helibucket is a suspended canvas bag lowered into water to fill, then
      > lifted & dumped over flames.

      An improved helibucket could work like a
      > variable parachute controlled by an apex line. The "chute" is laid
      > down to fill up & then lifted & carried away. To dump, the apex line is
      > held as the "risers" are slacked, pouring water out the gores in as many
      > streams in a good scatter pattern.
      >
      > Nylon line is much more heat resistant than spectra, but piano wire or
      > steel rope could take high temperature (~1500 F).

      Huh....around my neck of the woods, the nearest big water source (a
      lake) is 15 miles away, surrounded my high, rugged mountains and a deep
      canyon.

      You are saying you could actually fly a KITE 15 miles away from my
      place, dip water with a Bambi bucket, then fly it back to my house and
      dump a fire line with 100 foot precision between my place and the head
      of the fire? Amongst mountain peaks 2000 feet high?

      Not sure if that's what you mean, but if so, well don't be surprised at
      my reaction. If there's a wildland fire and I'm IC, I need a precision
      line of retardant painted RIGHT NOW (under an hour response time at
      most). I have no clue how you could do this with a kite, especially
      considering my response area is 126 square miles of high mountains
      (10,000 feet plus) and deep canyons.

      Thanks for the post and opportunity to reply, but I remain most skeptical --
      DAN FINK
      co-author, "Homebrew Wind Power" 978-0-9819201- 0-8
      Contributing author, Home Power Magazine, Back Home Magazine, Lighting
      Today Magazine, and more.

      >
      >
      >

    • dave santos
      Dan,   Thanks again for your expertise in fire fighting. Aviation is my background & it can be a blinding focus. More notes based on Web search &
      Message 2 of 6 , May 23, 2009
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        Dan,
         
        Thanks again for your expertise in fire fighting. Aviation is my background & it can be a blinding focus. More notes based on Web search & reflection-
         
        Fire Fighting Kites is a very novel idea, no immediate hits for the concept.
         
        Aviation is a primary resource in combating wildfires, with many roles. If nothing else, the essential spotting function might easily be enhanced by cheap KAP (Kite Assisted Photography).
         
        Pilots freely operate around conflagrations by avoiding the same structures around pyrocumulus cumulonimbus as in normal aviation around storm cells. A stationary cell tends to self limit as the convection column collapses on itself as rain. Planes can operate all around. Kites can in fact be sustained on inflow winds which are "normal" in character.
         
        A cell in a prevailing wind gradient tips over downwind & powerful downdrafts called microbursts are created. These localized zones are to be avoided. Virga, where rain evaporates into a falling mass of chilled air is particularly powerful. The winds around a downburst radiate in all directions, but are generally fairly shallow surface effects. A firefighter who witnesses such surface mayhem can well despair over the possibility of aviation operations. Navigating microbursts in commercial aviation is well developed. Modern airports & airliners have wind-shear detectors (mostly X band Doppler radar) that allow for avoidance of shear.
         
        Terrain & multiple pyrocumulus cells can complicate the picture beyond practical comprehension. There are wild fires where no human agency has much effect & the dangers are totally unmanageable. Ironically kites might be a last desperate resort in some situations (like property defense)  due to the expendibility of the materiel v. human life & conventional aircraft. 
         
        Water is still a primary retardant, best used directly on flames. A spectrum of mostly water vehicle based chemical retardant mixtures are used ahead of a fire. Dirt & sand can potentially serve as a ready retardant where water is unavailable. Fire-break creation by kite might solve some logistic gaps.
         
        Conclusion: Kite Assisted Fire Fighting is an open question, worthy of study & experimentation despite clear challenges. The essential role of conventional aviation in wildfire suppression is the best general predictor of the potential for alternative aviation to also serve.
         
        No?
         
        DaveS
         
         

        --- On Fri, 5/22/09, dave santos <santos137@...> wrote:

        From: dave santos <santos137@...>
        Subject: Re: [AirborneWindEnergy] Firefighting Kites
        To: AirborneWindEnergy@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Friday, May 22, 2009, 11:39 PM

        Dan,
         
        Thanks for the detailed & very useful critique of the fire fighting kite concept. It was an exercise in imagination in need of reality. You were asked on this list for the critical thinking you showed spotting the Magenn fantasy.
         
        Historic & much existing fire fighting is water-based, high risk, & often inadequate. Fire fighting is more fossil fuel & capital sensitive than desirable. Climate change science predicts more fires. Disregarding kites might be negligence.
         
        Pyrocumulus structure looks like standard "explosive" convection, the structure is generally navigable if the aircraft is strong enough, as hurricane flights suggest. Kites can surely deploy as fast as many existing responses, such as moving people into place.
         
        The only reason kites, as cheap sustainable aviation, couldn't chip away at existing fire fighting problem would be for lack of trying, a cultural choice. The daunting challenge of mountain fires with remote water sources is a good one. Would a scale demo of realistic technical difficulty dent your skepticism?
         
        Note that kites can in principle deliver varied materials (how about sand/dirt ?) & bulldoze firebreaks.
         
        daveS
         
        PS Agreed, your tower beats a kite round the homestead, but to travel the world by wind power, leave the tower at home & use kites ;^)
         


        --- On Fri, 5/22/09, Dan Fink <danbob@...> wrote:

        From: Dan Fink <danbob@...>
        Subject: Re: [AirborneWindEnergy] Firefighting Kites
        To: AirborneWindEnergy@yahoogroups.com
        Date: Friday, May 22, 2009, 2:51 PM

        Hello all -- I must assume that I was added to this list for reason, so
        here it is.....

        In addition to being a renewable energy author, I have been a
        firefighter for over 10 years. I am a paid consultant with a variety of
        different fire departments, companies and agencies involved in RE safety
        with fire in urban-interface situations. My article sidebar on off-grid
        PV systems and wildland firefighting is in the current issue of Home
        Power Magazine.

        I think there are some serious misconceptions in some items in this post
        (comments embedded in snipped text below):

        santos137@yahoo. com wrote:
        >

        > Kites can particularly revolutionize the fighting of wild fires since
        > the same high winds that fan flames enable kite work.

        Unstable airmasses are almost always involved in wildland fires. Then
        once a wildfire becomes plume-dominated, the changes in air movement can
        be drastic and violent. If a plume (the center of a Pyrocumulous cloud)
        collapses due to changing weather conditions, downdraft winds of up to
        (and over) 100 mph can start, blowing in all directions at ground level,
        and firefighters have died and will die if not advised. What would a
        straight downward wind burst of 100 mph plus for 10-15 minutes do to a
        fully-laden kite water pumping system?

        Kites could stem
        > fires not otherwise addressable.

        The concept of applying water to a wildfire to extinguish it is a common
        public misconception. All airborne firefighting resources (there are NO
        exceptions) are used to buy time for firefighters on the ground, who are
        cutting a wide fire line down to mineral soil using either shovels,
        Pulaskis, chainsaws, and McLeods (or dozers and feller-bunchers and of
        course the very vulnerable human sawyers and swampers).

        The airborne resource (chopper, heavy tanker, SEAT) 'paints' precision
        lines of retardant for the hand or helitack crew, so that they face 6
        inch flame lengths instead of 6 feet.

        In remote locations fuel supplies limit
        > conventional fire fighting.

        How so? if a wildland fire incident moves even from local to Type 3, you
        won't believe how much diesel and gas arrive on scene how fast at the
        ICP. If it's so remote that no homes are threatened, then why even try
        to put it out?

        Not so with kites which extract energy on
        > site. The very inflow & updrafts of a firestorm can actually enhance
        > kite fire fighting.

        Have you ever watched a Pyrocumulous cloud closely, or been underneath
        one in person? I have. You have NO idea what it's like......Hmmmmm. I'd
        LOVE to fly a kite with anyone under a Pyrocululous, but usually the
        dire situation precludes such frivolity.

        >
        > No current alternative energy technology transports easier or deploys
        > faster than kites, which makes them attractive for emergencies.

        If I get on my radio and say "I need a SEAT right now to paint a line
        between the head of the fire and this house that I am protecting" it's
        here in under 30 minutes with 400 gallons of retardant. The drive time
        for a 'kite crew' to my location is what? Takes over an hour drive from
        town, even at code 3 response. Then add kite deployment time. After that
        long delay, nobody will stop any fires in my remote, heavily wooded,
        mountain area. The faster you hit a wildland fire, the easier it is to
        put out. I'm talking minutes, not hours or days.

        Kite
        > systems replace far more expensive & dangerous helicopters for the
        > firefighting job, & are operable by less trained personnel.

        Helicopters are used in wildland firefighting as a "pinpoint" resource.
        They can drop only a small amount of water, but within 10 feet of where
        it is needed. AGAIN, dropping water on a wildfire to put it out is NOT a
        real-world solution. It does not work. You don't have enough BTUs of
        water to put out even a small wildfire no matter how large your airship
        is. You instead drop water or retardant along open areas to make the
        flames smaller when the hand crew arrives at the painted line to dig
        real line. There are not enough C130s, 747s, and Sikorsky Skycranes on
        earth to actually "extinguish" even a moderately sized wildfire with water.

        A big chopper can suck 1000 gallons of H2O from a pond 15 miles away,
        then dump it within a 10 foot radius of where the ground crew tells them
        to, in under 30 minutes from the initial radio call from IC. How can a
        kite do this? Wildfires are best fought within minutes of their
        ignition, while they are small. Otherwise, all we can do is try to
        contain them.

        Lifter kites
        > used for energy production & kite irrigation pumps could be quickly
        > diverted to a distant fire emergency by conventional transport.

        Energy production is not an issue. Most fire apparatus have PTO
        generators at 20kW and above capacity. In a truly remote situation, why
        even put the fire out? To save trees? Themselves, the public, and
        (lastly) homes are the (in order) priorities of firefighters. Why die
        for a few trees? Dumping water on the trees won't help in the slightest,
        it's all a war of BTUs.

        Property
        > savings from a single successful operation might far exceed the capital
        > cost of the kites.
        >
        > By techniques covered in the "string tripod" post many things are
        > possible. Kite arches strung across the path of a racing wild fire could
        > direct suppression anywhere along a line.

        Under what time frame could firefighting kites to lay fireline be
        deployed? Minutes, hours, days? Who steers them? The "painted" fireline
        must be precise within 100 feet at worst to save a home. Where does the
        water come from? If there's a big water source nearby, it's much cheaper
        to deploy gasoline portapumps at each residence with a sprinkler system.

        Kite lifted & driven aerial
        > cableways can run in any direction from water to fire, even upwind. A
        > fire-hose can be kite lifted over obstacles cross-country to provide
        > continuous flow.

        Wildfires move FAST. How does the FFkite deployment time (including
        driving to the usually remote area of the fire) factor into this? Looks
        to me before you get the kite crew out of bed, the required fireline
        distance that would need to be covered could be miles, and the
        deployment time measured in days or weeks.

        A giant kite, kite-tail, or line-laundry might work
        > as a flame retardant fire-break or simply snuff a localized
        > fire. Firefighters can maintain a safe standoff distance & be more
        > effective.

        Only if it works. If not, your FFs are is BIG trouble and risk of death.
        >

        > Kites can do many other emergency functions, even direct rescue.
        > Evacuating people & property in general disasters like flooding is possible.
        >
        > Application Notes:
        >
        > Almost any surface water will do, even very shallow sources. A
        > helibucket is a suspended canvas bag lowered into water to fill, then
        > lifted & dumped over flames.

        An improved helibucket could work like a
        > variable parachute controlled by an apex line. The "chute" is laid
        > down to fill up & then lifted & carried away. To dump, the apex line is
        > held as the "risers" are slacked, pouring water out the gores in as many
        > streams in a good scatter pattern.
        >
        > Nylon line is much more heat resistant than spectra, but piano wire or
        > steel rope could take high temperature (~1500 F).

        Huh....around my neck of the woods, the nearest big water source (a
        lake) is 15 miles away, surrounded my high, rugged mountains and a deep
        canyon.

        You are saying you could actually fly a KITE 15 miles away from my
        place, dip water with a Bambi bucket, then fly it back to my house and
        dump a fire line with 100 foot precision between my place and the head
        of the fire? Amongst mountain peaks 2000 feet high?

        Not sure if that's what you mean, but if so, well don't be surprised at
        my reaction. If there's a wildland fire and I'm IC, I need a precision
        line of retardant painted RIGHT NOW (under an hour response time at
        most). I have no clue how you could do this with a kite, especially
        considering my response area is 126 square miles of high mountains
        (10,000 feet plus) and deep canyons.

        Thanks for the post and opportunity to reply, but I remain most skeptical --
        DAN FINK
        co-author, "Homebrew Wind Power" 978-0-9819201- 0-8
        Contributing author, Home Power Magazine, Back Home Magazine, Lighting
        Today Magazine, and more.

        >
        >
        >


      • Dan Fink
        Joe, Dave, thanks for the kind words. I *do* see some specific and realistic applications here that I had not thought of, thanks to your replies. More
        Message 3 of 6 , May 27, 2009
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          Joe, Dave, thanks for the kind words.
          I *do* see some specific and realistic applications here that I had not
          thought of, thanks to your replies. More below.DAN


          >
          > My bent is still to be in the questioning stage to see how kites might
          > play a role in reducing use of coal and oil in firefighting:
          >
          > 1. Kites for observing and reporting hot spots?

          Absolutely. Typically a single fire engine resource with 2 firefighters
          must drive (or hike) to a a high spot to observe, and may be posted
          there for hours / days on rotating shifts. Aerial resources are also
          used for observation such as spotter planes and helicopters, but these
          are difficult to get, expensive, and are often already committed to
          water/retardant drops supporting ground crews who are doing structure
          protection.
          >
          > 2. Could large kites help cut open-soil lines by dragging brush-clearing
          > tools?

          I dunno -- usually it's dozers in the hills, or tractor plows on the
          flatlands. A dozer boss usually walks ahead of the cat, directing it on
          where to anchor the line.
          >
          > 3. Could kite systems help drop fire retardant in some niche circumstances?
          >
          > 4. Could high-temperature tolerating kite systems help extract stranded
          > people?

          Not sure on these ...
          >
          > 5. Could kites cool a region by misting the area?

          Yes -=- as long as there is a large water supply, misting a residential
          property is common practice. Type I and Type II incident teams usually
          carry sprinkler equipment.
          >
          > 6. Could kites play a role in observing lands for fires in order to
          > alert firefighters?

          Absolutely; if the kites had remote steerable video cameras. Add a
          thermal imaging camera and it could be very useful.

          >
          > 7. Could kites play a part in rapidly transporting firefighters and
          > equipment in certain niche circumstances?

          I'll think I'll pass on this ride and take the helicopter....but I'd
          love to watch you folks take a ride ;-)
          >
          > 8. Could kytooned fences slow wind and reduce a fire's progress?

          >
          > 9. Could a lifter kytoon hold a pulley that helps lay a retardant belt
          > across a long line?
          >
          > 10. ? [[Open for other seed questions.]]
          >
          > Low-time rural firefighter...where my best strategy was to set back
          > fires to establish an open-soil no-more-fuel line; I nearly started the
          > Antelope Valley on fire...ouch!
          > JoeF
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