A pioneering device to prevent and extinguish forest fires is patented in Malaga

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Archive image of a forest fire in Spain. / ON

The 82-year-old inventor Antonio Rico, from Torrox, together with Juan José Vallejo, an electrical and mechanical engineering student, and the company CreAcciona created the system that would produce a water curtain

Eugenio Cabezas

Forest fires in Spain have devastated nearly 301,000 hectares since January this year, according to estimates from the European Forest Fire Information System (EFFIS). Although provisional data up to September 18 from the Ministry of Ecological Transition (Miteco) lowered the figure to 261,000 hectares. In any case, these figures are triple those recorded in 2021, when 75,547.54 hectares had been destroyed.

In Malaga there have been two major fires this year; one in Sierra Bermeja in July and another in Mijas in July, which between them devastated more than 15,000 hectares. Last year nearly 10,000 hectares burned in the Sierra Bermeja.

To contribute to the work and safety of forest fire prevention, the 82-year-old inventor Antonio Rico, from Torrox, together with Juan José Vallejo, an electrical and mechanical engineering student, and the Malaga company CreAcciona, have developed and patented a pioneering device for preventing and extinguishing forest fires, consisting of an air-transportable hose reel which, when deployed in an area close to the fire, produces a curtain of water which, when effectively used on the base of the fire, “let it be contained and quenched”.

Reforestation

According to its creators, the patent, which was developed as a graduation project, is intended to be added to the existing means “in addition to extinguishing and containing forest fires and, in addition, to help facilitate the reforestation of affected areas”. areas “.

The device consists of a system of hoses wound on a reel that can be connected to a source of water, either natural, such as lakes or rivers, or artificial (closed reservoirs) close to the place of the fire.

As many coils as needed could be airlifted and firefighters could hook them up to a water source and with all the hoses deployed they would form “a sort of water fire wall” that would contain the advancing fire in a particular direction, or, by placing multiple coils around the fire source, create a perimeter firewall.

“The systems currently in use, dropping water from seaplanes at 200 meters in height, are not efficient”, explains Rico, who claims that his invention is “affordable, compared to what is invested in the maintenance of fire”. “Ninety-nine percent of fires are started with chemical retardants mixed with water, such as ammonium polyphosphate, which contaminate soils and delay the resumption of vegetation, such as demonstrated the CSIC.”

Rainwater harvesting

For this reason, the inventors propose the possibility of constructing rainwater reservoirs, which naturally fill with rain, in strategic areas of fire breaks, especially in the mountains which have shown a repeated tendency to fires, and especially in the mountains which are protected natural areas. . “Installing two fiber tanks buried in a mountain is possible, each one costs only 7,000 euros and would make it possible to collect rainwater”, explains Rico.

The reels, which weigh around 300 kilos each, are six meters long and would accommodate 200 meters of rubber, so that by installing for example eight of them lengthwise, they would create a wet zone of 9,600 square meters. “This wetland would slow down the progression of the flames much more effectively than throwing water 200 meters high”, explains Rico, who takes the example of a barbecue: “How is it better to put it out, by throwing water from above or at the base?

An illustration of the fire fighting system /

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Rico, who is also the creator of other successful inventions such as the “Deep Drop” underground irrigation system, which SUR reported on this summer, and Vallejo say they are currently in talks with organizations and public entities- private sector, some of whom have expressed interest in the patent, which has been filed in more than 170 countries.

However, for the moment, no administration has taken the step of integrating it. “There seems to be no interest, because there are a lot of interests involved in putting out fires,” adds the inventor of Torrox.

A drawing of how the system would be transported and deployed /

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