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Topic – Fighting Fires with Airplanes

Read the Following Selection

Read about fighting fires with airplanes, or click on the play button below to listen aloud.

Fighting Fires with Airplanes

When a big forest fire is burning, airplanes can help put out the fire. This job is called aerial firefighting.

How Do Airplanes Put Out Fires?

Airplanes can drop large amounts of water on a part of a forest that is burning. Where do airplanes get the water? Often, they use water from nearby lakes or rivers.

An airplane cannot hold enough water to put out a large fire by dropping water on it just one time. Once an airplane has dropped its water on a fire, it goes back to a lake or river to get more water to put on the fire.

Special Airplanes for Fighting Fires

Airplanes called water scoopers are used to put out forest fires. They got this name because they scoop up water. First, a plane flies so low over water that the bottom of the plane skims along the top of the water. Scoops on the bottom of the plane open up. As the plane moves, water is pushed into the scoops. In a few seconds, the plane’s water tank is filled.

Slowing Down Fires

Some planes drop a red liquid called fire retardant on parts of the forest that are not burning. Fire retardant makes it harder for trees to catch fire. Using fire retardant can help stop a forest fire from spreading quickly.

Fire retardant also works as plant fertilizer. If trees covered with fire retardant do burn down, the fire retardant will help new trees grow more quickly. But it will still take a long time for the trees to grow tall.

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Brain Stretch: Use online resources to find out how fire trucks use fire hydrants as a source of water.