Battling the blaze

PELHAM — The Pelham Fire Department recently tested a new product that could aid in suppressing fires.

On Monday, Nov. 20, the PFD gathered at a city owned house located off U.S. 31 to conduct a live burn and to test a product called Stat-X, a fast acting aerosol fire suppressant.

Fire fighters from Chelsea and Tarrant were in attendance to watch the demonstration.

George Ciottone, Stat-X senior vice president of sales, said the product resembles a grenade, but does not blow up. Instead, it releases aerosol that looks like smoke. Ciottone said Stat-X has to be thrown on a fire to be the most effective.

The product is designed for below grade fires, which refer to fires that occur below the first level of a structure, and small fires. The product does not completely extinguish a fire, but it is supposed to slow it down.

“The best results depend on how long the aerosol is on the fire,” Ciottone said. “If all windows and doors are closed, Stat-X can buy first responders maybe 10 to 30 minutes of time for evacuation or to get set up. It can’t be used outside because the wind will just blow the aerosol away.”

The product can also be used for vehicle fires, attic fires, meth lab fires and electrical fires. Ciottone said the product is has a 10-year shelf life and has been certified by the Environmental Protection Agency for use in occupied spaces and is not harmful if inhaled. The product will also operate under water and is not harmful to the earth’s ozone.

If effective, Fire Chief Tim Honeycutt said the product has the potential to be very valuable. During the exercise, one room of the house was burned at a time, giving multiple members of the fire department an opportunity to see how the product worked.

“Usually a fire is growing while we’re still setting up and getting in place,” Honeycutt said. “If this product works the way it is supposed to, it could give us the time needed to complete safety checks and get additional firefighters to the scene. And hopefully we could save some of the structure.”

During the exercise firefighters threw Stat-X through the window of the room that was on fire.

“This gives our firefighters real world experience of fighting fires using some new techniques,” Honeycutt said.

Another vendor was also on site allowing the department to try out thermal imaging cameras that allow firefighters to see in smoke-filled spaces by reading heat signatures.

For more photos, go to Shelbycountyphotos.com.