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Forest Service Team Working To Improve Emergency Fire Shelters
On Friday, the fourth anniversary of the Yarnell Fire passed. You’ll remember that in 2013, the nation — especially Arizonans — were shocked and saddened by the deaths of 19 members of the Granite Mountain Hotshots in a wildfire.
The firefighters were caught in the fast-moving fire. They deployed their fire-proof emergency shelters, but that did not save their lives. What went wrong?
It was a question that haunted NASA scientist Mary Beth Wusk, who develops heat-shielding materials for spacecrafts as they re-enter Earth’s atmosphere. If rocket scientists can keep astronauts safe at 3,000-degrees Fahrenheit, why couldn’t they keep firefighters safe back on terra firma?
Now, she works with the Forest Service's National Technology and Development Center, or T&D team, on a project called CHIEFS: Convective Heating for Improvement for Emergency Fire Shelters.
I spoke with Wusk, as well as CHIEFS team lead Josh Fody, to talk about this potentially life-saving technology.