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Safely launching during a drought?

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MacTech

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Up here in Maine, we are in the beginnings of a mild to moderate drought, no it's nowhere near as bad as the drought in California, but large patches of lawn are dying off, our hay field is also a tad dry, plus we just had it hayed a couple weeks ago, the grasses are short and browning

since I'm planning to launch a few rockets on the 4th, I'm wondering if there are any safety recommendations for launching in very dry conditions?

im planning on taking a 5 gallon bucket of water to the launch site and drench the area around the pad before launching, perhaps putting a tarp down would be better? I have one of those space blanket lined tarps in the trunk of the car, that might work better

any hints for not causing a hayfield fire?

to clarify, the field isn't totally dead, there's good sized areas of living grass, it's just drier than normal

that was one of the advantages of my winter launches, snow and ice don't burn, and frozen ground is hard to ignite...
 

rharshberger

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Up here in Maine, we are in the beginnings of a mild to moderate drought, no it's nowhere near as bad as the drought in California, but large patches of lawn are dying off, our hay field is also a tad dry, plus we just had it hayed a couple weeks ago, the grasses are short and browning

since I'm planning to launch a few rockets on the 4th, I'm wondering if there are any safety recommendations for launching in very dry conditions?

im planning on taking a 5 gallon bucket of water to the launch site and drench the area around the pad before launching, perhaps putting a tarp down would be better? I have one of those space blanket lined tarps in the trunk of the car, that might work better

any hints for not causing a hayfield fire?

to clarify, the field isn't totally dead, there's good sized areas of living grass, it's just drier than normal

that was one of the advantages of my winter launches, snow and ice don't burn, and frozen ground is hard to ignite...
Keep a 2 gallon or larger weed sprayer near the launch pad to put out any fires that do occur. Make sure the area is clear of dry material. IIRC Dino Chutes makes a Nomex ground cloth for under the pad that will help too. Sparkies are the worst offenders for creating fires.
 

MacTech

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So far, I've only used Estes black powder engines, but I can see how sparkies could cause fires

the advantage of black powder is that it does burn so quickly, I've done an experiment where I put a small pile of loose BP on a sheet of copy paper and lit it, it only left a small faint scorch mark (it was FFg grain size), the largest engines I have are D12-5's, I normally stick with C11-3's, C6-3, B6-5 and A8-3's in my fleet, I'm sure their thrust impulse and the pad's blast deflector will minimize any chances of accidental fires

i think part of my worries is I'm so used to watching my launch replays I filmed in 240FPS SLOMO, when I turn off SLOMO, the rocket only stays close to ground for a fraction of a second
 

samb

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First I'll assume you wont run afoul of any local or county burn restrictions. Having the Fire Marshal show up can ruin your day. Starting a grass fire would ruin many days. Unless your tarp is made of a flame resistant material like nomex I wouldn't put it under the pad. Wetting the area around the launcher is a good idea but I would also keep some water available for possible fire suppression throughout the day, as Rich suggested. Weed wack and rake the area immediately under the launcher. Can you safely raise your launcher at least 18 inches off the ground ? If you have one of the Estes plastic tripods then maybe put it on a couple of cinder blocks. Good luck and stay safe.
 
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tmacklin

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I second what samb said and would add that wind is also your enemy. A small grass fire on a windy day can get out of hand very rapidly, especially if there is tall, dry vegetation nearby. And even a small rocket that has too long of a delay can land upon and eject on the ground, causing a fire. That's probably the worst case scenario too, because such a fire might occur hundreds of feet distant and take time to reach.

Good luck and post some pictures! :)
 

dhbarr

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Frequently wetted canvas tarps would do fairly well, methinks. Lots bigger & cheaper than Nomex. Messy, though.

New product idea, borated tarpaulins && reborating spray? Whoever grabs the idea, send me a bunch of free stuff :-D
 

Cl(VII)

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I was at a launch where a grass fire got going last year, and it was a chore to get it under control. Those things can get out of hand QUICKLY.

If you want to put down a barrier I would suggest a welding blanket. I have one that I use with my launch tower since the base plate/blast deflector sits on the ground.
 

dhbarr

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Huh. Welding blankets are just fiberglass, I kind of want to laminate one. Could be super Q + D stock, super cheap.
 

AlfaBrewer

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I was at a launch where a grass fire got going last year, and it was a chore to get it under control. Those things can get out of hand QUICKLY.
I remember that one. If you think there might be the slightest chance of a fire, take something to fight it when you go check. Had I done that, the chore would have been quite minimal.
 

Cl(VII)

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Yes very heavy, tightly woven fiberglass. I got mine from Northern Tool and Equipment.
 

MacTech

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It's kind of off tangent, but we did have a grass fire in the hay field ages ago when I was a child, caused by Dad's old Case 222 garden tractor, maybe a little later I'll retell the story, I'm 46 years old and I remember it like it happened yesterday
 

rstaff3

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Have portable water...all fires don't happen under the pads.
 

rharshberger

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Have portable water...all fires don't happen under the pads.
Hence the recommendation of a 2 gallon weed sprayer. We use them in our club as lightweight fire extinguishers. We do have an older pressurized water extinguisher that we use if we need a higher volume of water, but for most purposes a weed sprayer works pretty well. Ours are the type sold by Home Depot or Lowes by the Round Up brand tank type weed sprayer.
 

rstaff3

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Hence the recommendation of a 2 gallon weed sprayer. We use them in our club as lightweight fire extinguishers. We do have an older pressurized water extinguisher that we use if we need a higher volume of water, but for most purposes a weed sprayer works pretty well. Ours are the type sold by Home Depot or Lowes by the Round Up brand tank type weed sprayer.
Ack, my bad...missed the first response. Perfect recommendation.
 

Steve Shannon

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If you have tall dry grass, don't launch under those conditions. Sprinkling the dry grass with water really just provides a false sense of safety unless you actually water the grass for a week until its soft and moist. .
We're faced with this yearly. We trim the grass down to the ground then rake it to the radius listed in the NAR safety code. If it's too bad we choose not to launch.
I've fought small fires under these conditions. It's terrifying how fast a grass fire can run.
 

AlfaBrewer

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Have portable water...all fires don't happen under the pads.
The grass fire Chris and I referenced above happened when a rocket pranged. The ejection charge started a small fire that was about 1-2' diameter when I got to it. I started trying to put it out with what I had (my feet and hat), but wind and the dry conditions had it out of my control quickly. By the time reinforcements showed up with water and fire extinguishers, it had spread to be about 10' x 30'.
 

MacTech

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Mother Nature helped a bit on Thursday, when an intense, fast moving severe thunderstorm rolled through, it was eerily similar to the microburst in Dover NH a couple years ago
[video]https://youtu.be/o5HvaFzwl-c[/video]
more severe boomers are forecast for today and into the night, should help saturate the ground and grass, I was driving in the field last night and it felt a little softer than normal
 
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