Revegetation Equipment Catalog

All-terrain Vehicles
Global Positioning Systems
Controlling Plants Mechanically
Controlling Plants Chemically
Controlling Plants by Fire
Site Preparation
Fertilizing & Mulching
Specialized Planters
Seed Harvesting
Seed Processing
Transport Trailers
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Controlling Plants with Fire

The use of prescribed fires to control weeds and woody vegetation, improve forage health, manipulate wildlife habitat, and reduce fire-prone vegetation is well established.  Revegetation projects can benefit from the use of fire alone or in combination with mechanical or chemical treatments.  Prescribed burning implies the use of stated goals and a well thought-out fire plan using recommended equipment and burning techniques.  Consideration must be given to weather, vegetation, topography, and other variables.  Fire can be a very cost-effective treatment and can cover large areas of varied terrain in a short time span if sufficient fine fuel is present.  Burning treatments will be spotty if the fuel load is limited.  Forage production and palatability is usually increased following a burn.  Seeding may also be conducted following a burn.  Erosion can be a problem following a fire.  Escapes from planned burns present a real hazard; therefore, trained personnel and wise judgment are vital to successful prescribed fires.

                   Ground Equipment               Aerial Ignition Systems
                       Drip Torch                             Helitorches
                       Weather Instruments             Plastic Sphere Dispenser
                       Hand Tools                            Additional Burning Information
                       Pump Trucks

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Ground Equipment

Drip Torch


Drip torches are used to ignite the fire front.  They consist of a 5-quart-capacity fuel reservoir, a valve to control flow, and a tube to deliver fuel to the igniter.  The igniter serves as a continuous flame to ignite drops of fuel which fall to the herbaceous vegetation as the drip torch is tilted toward the ground.  Torches are also available that are pressured, carried as backpack units, or mounted on ATVs.


Drip torches use a mixture of diesel fuel and gasoline to supply a steady stream of ignited fuel.  A ratio of 70% diesel to 30% gasoline is a rule-of-thumb for warm weather and 60 : 40 ratio is recommended for cool weather.  The higher the air temperature the less gasoline is needed.  To be safe, it is advisable to use the minimum amount of gasoline for proper operation. 

 Drip Torch Drip torch igniting a fire
                     Drip Torch                                           Ignition using a drip torch.
Photo courtesy of Forestry Suppliers, Inc.        Photo courtesy of Jim Ansley

Weather Instruments                                                                               Top of Page


Weather instruments are critical to the conduct of all prescribed fires.  Weather kits should be equipped with a psychrometer (temperature & relative humidity), anemometer (wind speed), bottle of water, note pad, and compass (Kit 1).  Improvements in fire weather kits include a digital readout hygrometer that gives quick relative humidity and temperature in Fahrenheit or centigrade, and a hand-held wind indicator that uses a wind-driven fan (Kit 2) as opposed to the “pith ball” type.


Burning is very weather sensitive.  In addition to National Weather Bureau forecasts, on-site measurements are critical and should be taken prior to and during the burning activity.  Data should be recorded at regular intervals, usually every 30 minutes.  Wind speed affects fire behavior immediately.  A change in relative humidity does not affect moisture levels in fine fuels for about 30 minutes.

Weather recording instrumentsWeather recording instruments
Weather kit 1 (left) and kit 2 (right)
Photo courtesy of Wayne Hamilton

Hand Tools                                                                                                 Top of Page


Hand tools include swatters, shovels, fire rakes, axes, and a 3- to 5-gallon backpack pumper.  It is important that these tools to be available to stop escaped fires.  Fire tools are available from companies that specialize in burning and firefighting equipment.  Two-way radios are critical for communication between members of the fire team.  

Backpack pumper
Backpack pumper used to extinguish a fire.
Photo courtesy of Wayne Hamilton.

Pumper Trucks                                                                                         Top of Page


Fire-fighting pumper trucks are necessary for the safe conduct of prescribed fires.  The appropriate size depends on the application.  Pumper units consist of a water tank, pump, gasoline or diesel engine, and a retractable hose 50 to 100 feet in length.  Trucks should to be 4-wheel drive for rangeland burning.  Slip-on units (100 gallons) are suitable for ¾ -ton pickups.  A 1-ton diesel truck with a self-contained 300 gallon unit is a popular size for research and commercial burning.  Trucks should have racks for drip torches, fuel cans, hand tools, and radio and cell phone communication.  Pumper units can be fabricated in a shop from components purchased separately or purchased as fully-equipped, self-contained units to be attached to a truck frame. 


Truck and pump engines should be kept in good condition to insure that they will operate when needed, and the pumping system must be protected in freezing weather.  Fire trucks are placed at strategic locations during burning so they can quickly reach an escaped fire.

Pumper truck used for control burns on rangeland
One-ton pumper truck with 300 gallon tank.
Photo courtesy of Texas Agricultural Experiment Station

Aerial Ignition Systems                                                                    Top of Page


Description and Application

Helitorches are used by helicopters for aerial ignition of all types of large-scale prescribed fires including oil spills.  Helitorches will operate under any helicopter equipped with a cargo hook and 28 VDC power.  A 55-gallon tank supplies special fuel to a propane ignition system which then supplies a uniform stream of fire to the targeted area.  A support trailer with mixing tanks to prepare the gel fuel is required.  The pilot controls the helitorch operation.  The burn boss is located in a separate aircraft or strategic ground site.

Helitorch unit  Helitorch used for ignition of controlled burns
Helitorch used for aerial ignition of prescribed fires.
Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service, Missoula Technology & Development Center

Plastic Sphere Dispenser                                                                       Top of Page

Description and Application

The plastic sphere dispenser (PSD) known colloquially as the “Ping Pong Ball Machine” was designed for rapid, low-cost ignition of fine fuel over long fire lines from helicopters.  Plastic spheres containing potassium permanganate are injected with ethylene glycol (antifreeze) as they are ejected from an aircraft.  After a delay of about 20 seconds a chemical reaction causes the plastic spheres to ignite.  The PSD is installed in the passenger’s compartment behind the helicopter pilot, and the operator sits next to the PSD.  The operator receives commands from the fire boss in the front seat.  This aerial ignition equipment is easy to setup and use because there is no mixing of flammable liquid, and the operator and burn boss are in the ignition aircraft.  Dispensing can be adjusted to achieve ground distances of 4 to 70 feet between spheres.

Dispenser of plastic spheres to ignite control burns
Plastic sphere dispenser (PSD) mounted in helicopter
Photo courtesy of USDA Forest Service, Missoula Technology & Development Center


The manufacturers' websites list information on equipment sizes, accessories, dealers, and their email addresses.  Local farm and ranch supply stores and chemical dealers may stock sprayer equipment that is suitable for pumper trucks and hand tools.

Ben Meadows Company (catalog)
P.O. Box 5277
Janesville, WI 53547-5277
Phone: 800-241-6401
Phone: 608-743-8001
Fax: 608-743-8007

Cascade Fire Equipment Co.
P.O. Box 4248
Medford, OR 97501
Phone: 800-654-7049
Phone: 541-779-0394
Fax: 541-779-8847

Forestry Suppliers, Inc. (catalog)
P.O. Box 8397
Jackson, MS 39284-8397
Phone: 800-647-5368
Phone: 601-354-3565
Fax: 601-292-0165

Premo Plastics Engineering LTD (PSD unit)
863 Viewfield Road
Victoria, British Columbia V9A4V2
Phone: 604-382-3023
Fax: 604-383-4335

SEI Industries Ltd. (PSD unit, Bambi bucket, fire-fighting equip)
7400 Wilson Avenue
Delta, BC, Canada V4G 1E5
Phone: 604-946-3131
Fax: 604-940-9566

Simplex Manufacturing (Helitorch)
13340 NE Whitaker Way
Portland, OR 97230
Phone: 503-257-3511
Fax: 503-257-8556

Wildfire (firefighting equipment)
P.O. Box 58
Norton, VT 05907
Phone: 800-426-5207
Phone: 514-637-5572
Fax: 514-637-3985

Wylie Sprayers, Inc. (pumps and tanks)
100 North Main Street
Petersburg, TX 79250
Phone: 800-722-4001
Phone: 806-667-3566
Fax: 806-667-3392

Additional Burning Information                                                            Top of Page

McPherson, G.R., G.A. Rusmussen, H.A. Wright, and C.M. Britton.  1986.  Getting started in prescribed burning.  Texas Tech University, Dept. of Range and Wildlife Management, Management Note 9.  Lubbock, TX 79409.

Scifres, C.J. and W. T. Hamilton.  1993.  Prescribed burning for brushland management.  Texas A&M University Press, College Station, TX 77843.

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