With the Elmo Fire near Polson winding down, we were contacted by a company called Perimeter Solutions that not only provides the bright red fire retardant dropped from the air, but has also developed a new residential use fire retardant that can act as a tool for fire prevention.

President of the company Jeff Emery said his company has been manufacturing the aerial retardant for several decades.

“That red stuff is a material called PHOS-CHEK and Perimeter Solutions has been making, producing, and innovating on PHOS-CHEK for actually about 60 years now,” said Emery. “We were the inventors of the technology way back in time. We work hand in hand with all the federal agencies and state and state agencies and even local governments to be able to protect and respond to wildfires.”

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Emery explained why the PHOS-CHEK retardant is such a bright red color.

“That red color is actually what we call a Fugitive Red, which goes away after a few weeks of exposure to sunlight,” he said. “It's really critical to help identify for those up in the air where they've actually established a perimeter. The idea is when we drop that retardant it leads to a chemical reaction with fire. It doesn't require water, and it doesn't make the water work better, but it actually stops the fire in its tracks, and that's the unique capability that fire retardant provides.”

Emery described the relatively new technology of ground applied retardant.

“With the ground applied units our employees will go around and put an application by the ground that can be a lot more accurate,” he said. “Sometimes that's used to protect critical infrastructure, maybe the towers for utility poles, to make sure that there are fewer power disruptions in the area or it might be critical infrastructure in the area or really critical areas of wildlife.”

Emery said since a home or business owner doesn’t want bright red retardant around their structures, they have developed a colorless application that still provides fire prevention and protection.

“In the case of preventative applications, we take out the coloring and it is more of a clear application,” he said. “If you look very closely at the vegetation and see it sticks to it, you can see it right after the treatment. Over time, you won't necessarily see it at all. So it doesn't impact the aesthetics of the landscaping or the yard. It's a treatment that our service providers are trained to do and apply in the correct thickness in any situation whether it's protecting an entire homeowners association or an individual home.”

Emery said the process is called ‘home hardening’ which helps prevent burning embers from causing a fire on the treated areas of a home or business.

See more about the preventive residential treatment here.

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