Fort McCoy News November 08, 2013

New technology used to ignite prescribed burns

The Fort McCoy Natural Resources Branch and the Fire Department used a hand-held, gas-powered launcher to conduct a prescribed burn on a machine-gun range at Fort McCoy.

Photo for Pyroshot article
Fort McCoy firefighter Ryan Liss aims the Pyroshot dispenser, which will ignite a prescribed burn at Fort McCoy, while Charles Mentzel (right), installation Forestry Technician, observes. The prescribed burn was used to reduce the risk of wildfires at Fort McCoy. Photo by Rob Schuette

Charles Mentzel, installation Forestry Technician, said a Pyroshot incendiary plastic sphere dispenser was used to ignite the prescribed fire around the range, which also is home to an active eagle's nest.

The installation has had the dispenser for the past two years, he said. The prescribed burn was conducted in the fall so it wouldn't disturb the eagles, which nest near the range.

The dispenser is useful to ignite fires in areas that are difficult to access, Mentzel said.

Prescribed burns control the growth of vegetation on training ranges and other lands at Fort McCoy, Mentzel said. This helps reduce the risk of wildfires on the installation.

By preventing wildfires, prescribed burns reduce training disruptions, protect land and its plant and animal inhabitants, and, subsequently, people and property.

Prescribed burns generally are done in the spring and fall seasons because weather conditions are most favorable and troop disturbance lowest at those times, he said.