In fighting fires, there's water, foam--and now--gel.
Travis County is looking to replace foam as a fire suppressor with a gel-like substance called TetraKO.
"We can suppress the fire sooner. We can use less water and we can keep the fire smaller," Capt. Von Beals with Travis County Emergency Services District #4 said.
This water additive effectively turns one gallon of water into 10 because it creates a sticky fire barrier.
"It creates a fire suppression barrier that won’t fall to the ground. Water causes a lot of damage in house fires,” TetraKO CEO Doug Ruth said. “This sticks and stays, taking all that fuel out of the fire and quickly knocking it down.”
In a demonstration for the media Tuesday, the gel-coated board stopped the fire from climbing a wall and blocked embers from getting inside vents.
"In our rural areas where we don't have hydrants or water supply, this actually will give us more water,” Beals said. “We can actually put out more fire with less water.”
The gel is also 58 percent less expensive than the foam ESD #4 uses now. The station hopes to get it within a few years. If they do switch to the gooey substance, they will be the first fire group using the product in Central Texas.
"Anything we can do to make better use of all our supplies, our firefighting tools, our water and everything else is a win-win, not only for the fire service, but for the public as well,” Beals said.
Travis County will be testing the water additive for the next few months.