Husqvarna: The right tools to fight winter veldfires

Sponsored by Husqvarna

South Africa has not one, but two fire seasons: the dry summer months in the Western Cape, and the dry winter months in the rest of the country.

Husqvarna: The right tools to fight winter veldfires
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The Western Cape, currently recovering from the devastating 2015-2018 drought, has already had its share of fires this year due to tinder-dry trees and vegetation.

Since the start of 2018, more than 500 firefighters, as well as firefighting aircraft, have helped suppress more than 50 fires across the province.

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Across the rest of the country, the dry winter months and the annual fire season are looming.

South Africa has more than 1,26 million hectares of plantations, and more than 31 000ha of trees are damaged each year by fire, insects and disease. On average, fire accounts for 18 000ha of this total.

Flexible, effective protection against fire

The Husqvarna Group, a leading international manufacturer of outdoor power products for forest, park and garden care, is an innovator in fire-fighting equipment for this environment.

Fighting veldfires is dangerous, expensive and labour-intensive, and requires equipment of the very highest calibre to make the task safer and quicker.

Husqvarna launched its range of commercial backpack blowers with these parameters in mind, and the result is world-leading quality and flexibility. The Husqvarna 580BTS blower typifies this approach.

“The 580BTS can be used during the preparation phase, fire suppression and even more importantly, the mopping up phase,” says Ben Potgieter, managing director of CMO Forestry Operations Africa.

“Blowers are extremely effective during the initial attack phase when fires are still small. Small fires can be contained by separating the fuel or by eliminating the heat to stop the fire from spreading. But the blower is also highly effective during mopping up to keep the fire line clean.”

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Pieter Smuts, country sales manager for Husqvarna South Africa, says the specifications of the Husqvarna 580BTS blower speak for themselves.

“With its powerful X-Torq engine, the 580BTS produces the highest air flow of any backpack blower on the market: 26m2/min. What’s more, the air injection cleans the intake air before entering the engine, which is crucially important when working in a dusty, sooty environment.”

Smuts adds that the tube-mounted throttle control on the 580BTS makes it simple for an operator to regulate air flow, and the fuel pump has been specifically designed for easy starting.

“A bonus is that the commercial grade air filter ensures a longer operating period and trouble-free use.”

Another weapon in Husqvarna’s arsenal of fire control equipment is the 570BTS backpack blower.

In-field research has shown that the volume of air exiting the nozzle of the 570BTS is lower than that of the 580BTS, but the machine delivers higher air velocity (378km/h), making it an ideal tool in fire control.

According to Potgieter, runaway fires appear to be increasing in South Africa due partly to extreme weather conditions.

A contributing factor, however, is a lack of preparedness and failure to build firebreaks and keep grass growth under control.

“We can’t change the weather systems or the terrain, but we can manage fuel loads,” he says. “Another challenge is a lack of readiness and not enough firefighting resources available to deal with fires.”

In light of this, the value of the 580BTS backpack blower as a powerful firefighting tool can hardly be overstated.

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WATCH: Firefighting demonstration