Fire Suppressants and Cultural Resources

A new generation of chemical fire retardants and suppressants have come into use over the course of the last decade. Given current climatic trends and predictions of continuing climatic instability, it is safe to predict an increase in wildfire activity across the American west and that chemicals will continue to be applied to suppress these wildfires.

The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training (NCPTT) is initiating research on the interaction of fire suppressants used to extinguish wildfires with cultural heritage.

The goals of this research are to:

1. Study the effects of fire suppressants on cultural materials, and
2. Identify methods to remove fire suppressants from cultural materials.

Joining NCPTT to undertake the two-year research project is Kaitlyn Eldredge from Boise, Idaho. Kaitlyn is an historical archaeologist interested in experimental archaeology. Her past research includes the impacts of mechanical fireline construction on archaeological sites. She’s also the daughter of a retired wildland firefighter.