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Evaluating Water Rakes

[photo] A Hydro-RakeFirefighters use water rakes during mopup operations. The tech tip, Water Rakes (0451–1306P–SDTDC), describes how SDTDC evaluated two water rakes, the Hydro-Rake and the Rhines Rake, in field locations.

The Hydro-Rake weighs 7 pounds and is 61 inches long. The length is good for mopup, but makes the Hydro-Rake difficult to store. The rake has stiff tines to penetrate deep duff and move smoldering timber. Water sprays from the tips of the rake's tines at 10 gallons per minute. The rate can be reduced by using nozzles with a lower flow rate. This rake should be used primarily as a mopup tool in brush and bare soil. The rake is most effective in pine needles and light fuels. It is not recommended for digging fireline, although the manufacturer suggests that use.

[photo] The Rhines RakeThe Rhines Rake weighs 3 pounds, about half as much as the Hydro-Rake, and is slightly longer (63 inches). The rake can only scratch the surface of the ground because its tines bend with minimal force. Firefighters find it difficult to mix dirt and burning embers, because the rake only can be used with a pulling motion. The rake often seizes during field use, but it works well in duff and needles when ground debris is shallow. A modification kit makes the rake easier to use and just increases its weight to 4 pounds.

For more information about water rakes, contact Ralph Gonzales, project leader (phone: 909–599–1267, ext. 212; e-mail:

Electronic versions of the water rakes tech tip can be found at:

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