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Columbus Fire Department put one of its newest devices to action recently, snuffing out a fire that could have threatened a home in Columbus.

Fire Chief Randy Koehn used the X-Tinguish FST, a fire suppression tool produced by Flame Guard USA, during a basement fire in mid-December. The fire suppression device, housed in a portable red box with a durable black handle, is a highly effective tool which has been used by fire departments, police, first responders and the armed forces for several years.

“It breaks down the air and interrupts the chain reaction of the heat, fuel and oxygen that it takes to produce a fire,” Koehn said. “It more or less snuffs the fire out. It does not take oxygen away so if someone were in the room yet it wouldn’t harm anybody.”

Columbus FD purchased two fire suppression tools in February 2018 for $600 each. Since the devices can only be used once, the department must be selective when they are used. Koehn said the device works best in smaller, more confined areas.

“If a house is fully engulfed, we’re not going to use it,” he said.

Last month, Koehn responded to a house fire, noticing heavy smoke coming from the basement. He entered the home, found the basement stairway, pulled an activation pin on the device and flung it into the basement.

Within minutes, the fire had been expunged. Koehn said the tool cuts down on water usage, which can sometimes damage a home.

“Insurance companies love it because you don’t have the water damage that’s typical when you go in there and put it out with a hose,” Koehn said. “If we can put a fire out and minimize water damage, hopefully people won’t be displaced as long as they used to be.”

After the device is activated, it generates an aerosol mist, containing potassium-based chemical components that expand volumetrically, flooding the space and quickly suppressing the fire.

The device can reduce temperature inside a room by 1,000 degrees in 30 seconds. Koehn knew departments in Waupun and Hartford also used the suppression tool and was intrigued.

“I talked to the chiefs at both departments and they endorsed them,” Koehn said. “I wish I had gotten them sooner.”

Koehn said the device may also be used in a car fire, especially if a person is trapped inside. Columbus FD carries one in Koehn’s truck and the other in the first-out vehicle.

Koehn thought about purchasing the device for awhile, but was skeptical. After talking to chiefs in Waupun and Hartford and hearing about the tool’s success, Koehn believed in the investment. He said the tool could help save a life.

A video demonstration highlighting the X-Tinguish FST can be viewed on YouTube by searching “fire suppression tool.” Koehn said battery life lasts five years, but chemicals in the device are good for about 15.

“Even within five years’ time we would have enough opportunities to use both of them,” Koehn said.