A driptorch is a tool used in wildfire suppression, controlled burn
Controlled burn
Controlled or prescribed burning, also known as hazard reduction burning or Swailing is a technique sometimes used in forest management, farming, prairie restoration or greenhouse gas abatement. Fire is a natural part of both forest and grassland ecology and controlled fire can be a tool for...

ing, and other forestry
Forestry is the interdisciplinary profession embracing the science, art, and craft of creating, managing, using, and conserving forests and associated resources in a sustainable manner to meet desired goals, needs, and values for human benefit. Forestry is practiced in plantations and natural stands...

 applications to intentionally ignite fires.

The driptorch consists of a canister for holding fuel with a handle attached to the side, a spout with a loop to prevent fire from entering the fuel canister, a breather valve to allow air into the canister while fuel is exiting through the spout, and a wick from which flaming fuel is dropped to the ground. The wick is ignited and allows the fire to be directed as needed. The spout and wick can be secured upside down inside the canister for storage or transport. Typically the fuel used is a mixture of kerosene
Kerosene, sometimes spelled kerosine in scientific and industrial usage, also known as paraffin or paraffin oil in the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Ireland and South Africa, is a combustible hydrocarbon liquid. The name is derived from Greek keros...

 and diesel with a ratio of 30% to 70% respectively, although, the amounts may need to be adjusted according to fuel and weather conditions. Sometimes heavier oils are used to increase adhesion of the liquid fuel to the vegetation, and increase burn time and heat.

Variations of the driptorch can be attached to off-road vehicles to ignite a fire while driving slowly along the ignition line. Another variant of the driptorch is the helitorch, which is attached to a helicopter
A helicopter is a type of rotorcraft in which lift and thrust are supplied by one or more engine-driven rotors. This allows the helicopter to take off and land vertically, to hover, and to fly forwards, backwards, and laterally...

 and is used to ignite fire from the air.

The intentional ignition of fires is a common firefighting tactic. A burnout (also called a firing operation, or firing out) is a smaller fire ignited along a control line ahead of the main fire. The intent is to consume fuel ahead of the main fire, strengthening the control line. A backfire is a more aggressive type of burning done to influence the behavior of the main fire.

In forest and prairie management, the driptorch is the most common tool used to ignite prescribed burns, which are used to remove excess fuel buildup or to re-create natural cycles of fire in an ecosystem
An ecosystem is a biological environment consisting of all the organisms living in a particular area, as well as all the nonliving , physical components of the environment with which the organisms interact, such as air, soil, water and sunlight....

. Other tools which can also be used for this purpose include the fusee, a pyrotechnic device similar to a road flare
Flare (pyrotechnic)
A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications...

, other pyrotechnic devices, or even shovelfulls of burning vegetative fuels thrown from one place to another.

See also

  • Fire flapper (tool)
    Fire flapper (tool)
    A flapper is a wildland firefighting tool also called a swatter or a beater. It is designed for extinguishing minor fires in rural areas such as heaths. A flapper is built with a long handle and a series of lamellas which allows firefighters to stand well back from the fire...

  • Flare (pyrotechnic)
    Flare (pyrotechnic)
    A flare, also sometimes called a fusee, is a type of pyrotechnic that produces a brilliant light or intense heat without an explosion. Flares are used for signalling, illumination, or defensive countermeasures in civilian and military applications...

  • Flare gun
    Flare gun
    A flare gun is a firearm that launches flares. It is typically used for signalling, as distress signalling, at sea or from the ground to aircraft...

  • Glossary of wildland fire terms
    Glossary of wildland fire terms
    The following is a glossary of wildfire terms. Except where noted, terms are taken from a 1998 Fireline Handbook transcribed for a Conflict 21 counter-terrorism studies website by the Air National Guard....

  • McLeod (tool)
    McLeod (tool)
    The McLeod is a wildland firefighting tool with a large hoe-like blade on one side and tined blade on the other. It is commonly used in the mountains of the American west. This tool is called a "Rake Hoe" in Australia and a "Streif" in the American southwest....

  • Pulaski (tool)
    Pulaski (tool)
    The pulaski is a special hand tool used in wildland firefighting.The tool combines an axe and an adze in one head, similar to that of the cutter mattock, with a rigid handle of wood, plastic, or fiberglass. The pulaski is a versatile tool for constructing firebreaks, as it can be used to both dig...

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