Push underway to use new technology to fight fires in California

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- A Valley business believes it has a global solution to putting out fires. The technology is already being used internationally in places like Italy and Romania, but it was designed here in the Valley with California specifically in mind.

Former Marine Officer Rick Goddard believes his company has come up with an innovative solution to knocking out some of the world's most devastating wildfires, like the Rim Fire that blackened some 400 square miles in the Stanislaus National Forest and Yosemite National Park and destroyed 11 homes.

He calls it the Guardian System, developed by Caylym Technologies of Hanford. The new technology uses containers, each carrying one ton of water or fire suppressant. When dropped from the back of cargo aircrafts in succession, the boxes open and release their contents, combatting wildfires by raining retardant on areas in overlapping bursts.

"The first interest came surprisingly from Romania. They had their Air Force and they had brand-new airplanes, and they were dealing with both fires in the Carpathian Mountains that were devastating them," said Goddard.

Then came Italy, Portugal and Spain, and it's now getting interest from other countries in the southern hemisphere. But so far, agencies here like the U.S. Forest Service and Cal Fire are reluctant to sign on.

"This is a radical departure from what the current policies have been," said Goddard.

So Assembly Member Jim Patterson, R-Fresno, is stepping in to give it a fighting chance.

"They introduced me to their technology, and I was blown away by it. And it would have been a lifesaver if we'd had it to be able to use the Guardian for the Rim Fire, we could've put it out very, very quickly; it would not have exploded into the disaster that it was," said Patterson.

He's now pushing for the Guardian to be used here, day or night, in any aircraft with a rear ramp -- saving the state time, money and resources that can be shifted to fire prevention and management.

"If you look at some of the super tanker drops, they're $50,000 to $60,000 for drop," said Goddard. "Our drop including the cost of the airplane is something less than $20,000."

Patterson says he's not only interested in Caylym getting a shot, but other new and developing technologies as well. And he says now is the time to consider things like this as California continues to battle the ongoing drought.

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