In the News

Barricade Fire Gel on the Mountain – The Palomar Experience

  • San Diego County, California
  • Community of Palomar Mountain
  • Palomar Mountain State Park
Wildfire Protection Team:
  • Fire Chief George E. Lucia Sr.
  • Palomar Mountain Volunteer Fire Department
  • Community Emergency Response Team Volunteers
  • Bill Leininger, CERT Leader
The Challenge:
  • Santa Ana winds propel wildfires into many parts of San Diego County.
  • Devastation will be heavy.
  • Property losses will be high.
  •  One community is ready, and this is their story.
Polamar With support from the San Diego County Board of Supervisors, Chief Lucia supplied his Fire Department with Barricade Fire Gel, and trained his team in the use of the new fire suppressant/retardant. More Barricade was stored at strategic locations around the neighborhoods. CERT Leader Leininger coordinated the volunteer effort to prepare for the possibility of wildfire. They spent weekends training for what they hoped would never happen anywhere near their homes. This mountain-top community had no recorded fire in over one hundred years and had been severely affected by the bark beetle due to dry drought conditions. The thick brush and dead standing timber, combined with only 2 small winding roads down the mountain as an escape route, heightened the fear. Leininger directed a careful study of the mountainous terrain, the dry trees and grasses common in this area, prevailing wind direction and likely fire pathways. He organized Barricade training sessions, with the help of Dan Gouldner, Product Specialist from Barricade International in Florida. One hot October night, the inevitable happened. Santa Ana winds whipped up 5 raging wildfires in Southern California and a two-week nightmare began. The Palomar CERT teams did not hesitate. They mobilized at 3 AM, to treat homes and historic structures with Barricade. When the fire struck, San Diego County had no resources left to share. The small mountain community guided by their Volunteer Fire Department and 3 Cleveland National Forest Type 3 engines, held the line for more than 24 hours. Palomar Mountain Over the next two weeks, the CERT team volunteers were instrumental in the community-wide effort, helping with evacuation procedures, communications and supply logistics. Chief Lucia’s Palomar Mountain Volunteer Fire and Rescue crews worked tirelessly to protect their community, grateful for the work that the CERT teams did, which allowed firefighters to attack the fires head-on, with fewer concerns about structure protection. Not a single death, injury or home was lost on the mountain as 50,000 acres burned! Historic structures in the state park were saved, homes were saved, and even the evacuated fire station was saved with the help of Barricade. Their success is the result of cooperation between the Community Wildfire Protection Plan, Fire Safe Council, the Cleveland National Forest, Cal Fire, California State Parks, the County of San Diego, Barricade International and the Community Emergency Response Teams. This story of cooperation is a model for other Community Wildfire Protection Plans. Learn more about Community Emergency Response Teams at

California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Field Operational Evaluation

Read the letter submitted to Barricade International following a field operational evaluation of the Barricade II fire blocking gel.

San Diego County, California

A group of residents on Palomar Mountain will breathe a little easier with Barricade on hand. County Supervisors have approved a grant for the Volunteer Fire Department to purchase the Barricade for the neighborhood. Residents have been actively working to reduce the fuel load in the area, and Barricade will offer an added level of protection in case of a wildfire threat.

Thanks to the efforts of Chief George E. Lucia Sr., volunteer block captains will be trained to use Barricade and be responsible for helping their neighbors by applying it to homes that may be threatened. Community Emergency Response Team caches will be located throughout the mountain neighborhood. With structure protection the responsibility of the community residents, firefighters will be able to get to the fire lines more quickly, and orderly evacuation measures will be more efficient.

San Diego County firefighters had proof of Barricade’s effectiveness in 2003, when they used it to save more than 50 homes during the Paradise Fire.

The plan on Palomar Mountain is a model worthy of consideration by neighborhood associations in other areas. Fire departments welcome the active participation of residents who are able to take responsibility for protecting their property as much as possible. Response time is of utmost importance when a wildfire strikes. With such cooperation from homeowners, fire department resources can be mobilized to the front lines of the fire, and authorities can manage safe evacuations.

Barricade Project a Science Fair Winner

Mitch Chandler, a high school student in Riverside, Washington took a first with his science fair project, “Emissivity of Infrared Radiation Through Window Glass.” In the first presentation, he won cash and a trip to the national science fair. He won a scholarship in his oral presentation, and he expects to continue with a further Barricade project next school year.

Barricade Nominated for the Presidential Green Chemistry Challenge Award

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics recognizes businesses that make innovations in chemistry that prevent pollution and reduce the impact of chemicals on human health and the environment.  The 2007 nomination of Barricade International was made because of its efforts to develop a fire gel without nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPEs) and petroleum distillate.

In 2006, the EPA announced The Safer Detergents Initiative that encouraged the manufacture and use of safer surfactants.  Procter and Gamble and Unilever have both removed NPEs from their products.  In the case of aerial use of fire retardants, Barricade provides a favorable alternative to other less environmentally friendly products.  Barricade contains no dangerous NPEs and no petroleum distillates.

Barricade News

  • 175,000 gallons of Barricade Fire Gel was used at Columbia Air Attack Base in Sonora, California.
  • SEAT dropped Barricade on Idaho wildfire.
  • Barricade was successfully tested in scoop aircraft in Minnesota.
  • Public utility used Barricade to save power poles in Oregon wildfire.
  • Forest Service used Barricade in helicopter buckets on Six Rivers NF fires.

Saved by the Gel – California

As much of the country was focused on the flooding in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and the devastation of her sister Rita, another natural disaster was monopolizing the attention of residents in the hills of Southern California. Wildfire in Sanford, California was threatening hundreds of homes in the Thousand Oaks area.

Homeowner Patricia Pfizer was grateful for the help she received from firefighters who decided to spray Barricade Fire Blocking Gel onto her wood shake roof just 2 hours before the fire came over the ridge.

“I didn’t have the energy to take anything out of the house,” said Ms. Pfizer, “so the very idea that it was going to be safe was incredibly important.” After evacuating to a safe area, she was relieved to find no fire damage at all.

Any homeowners whose homes and precious belongings were saved from wildfire by Barricade Gel might agree with Ms. Pfizer, who concluded, “What an amazing, amazing thing!”

For Immediate Release: U.S. Forest Service Approves Non-Toxic Fire Gel

The U.S. Forest Service has announced that Barricade ® II Fire Blocking Gel has been tested and approved for use in a wide range of firefighting functions including application by large air tankers, smaller Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs), helicopters using buckets as well as firefighters on the ground using fire engines. Barricade ® II is the first and only liquid fire gel concentrate that has been approved for use by the Forest Service that does not contain toxic chemical additives known as Nonylphenol Ethoxylates (NPEs) and petroleum distillate oils. Environmental organizations have called upon the U.S. Forest Service to ban the use of other firefighting chemicals that contain NPEs.

Barricade International President, John Bill Bartlett is the Florida firefighter who invented the first fire gel after observing that a disposable baby diaper did not burn during a routine trash fire. He praised the Forest Service for approving his new environmentally friendly fire gel saying “Now firefighters can use Barricade Gel to save more homes from destruction and to bring wildfires under control more quickly and safely.” Barricade International Inc. 2006

California Homes Saved from Wildfires

Vic MacKenzie, a firefighter with the DeLuz Fire Department in San Diego County reported that he and his fellow firefighters saved 11 homes in November, 2003 with Barricade Gel. “We didn’t lose a home the whole time we were there” MacKenzie said. “I think this product will become like having fire sprinklers in your home,” he added.

He described how they gelled a propane tank with Barricade and “the flames were wrapping themselves all around the tank when the firestorm blew over.” He termed it “a very impressive save”.

Similar sentiments were expressed by Battalion Chief Eric Petersen, of the Canyon Volunteer Fire Department. “It’s an excellent product. Once you put it on a structure, it will not burn if you apply it correctly,” Petersen said. “You can put it on hours before a fire and leave it. This is really helpful for us. It’s environmentally friendly and can be washed off with water.”

Greg Seaton, an ecstatic private homeowner in Simi Valley described the flame heights of more than fifty feet that raged through his property. Using his own hose, he had coated his home with Barricade Gel, and it came through unscathed.

Barricade Gel Saves Homes in South Dakota

Captain Gorden Sabo and his crew of the Rockerville Fire Department, located in the Black Hills of South Dakota, were assigned to a structural protection task force while working the Battle Creek Fire. The 13,200-acre fire was raging out of control on August 17, 2002 and was threatening many homes.

Fortunately for homeowners, the State of South Dakota had recently purchased Barricade Fire Blocking Gel for every fire department in the Black Hills region.

Captain Sabo was in command of a brush truck equipped with the Barricade QuikAtak™ system. With the raging fire bearing down, Captain Sabo and his crew applied Barricade to the threatened homes.

The crew coated six homes before they exhausted their supply of Barricade Gel and had to leave the area for their own safety.

When the fire had passed, they returned to the area and discovered that every home they “Barricaded” was still standing, undamaged from the fire. The one home they were unable to coat and all of the outbuildings around the homes, which also were not coated, had burned to the ground.

On a statewide basis, the State of South Dakota is the first governmental agency that has implemented the use of Barricade Gel technology to save homes, lives and property. Their progressive approach in preparing for devastating wildfires paid off the very first time they used Barricade.

With extraordinary results such as these, it is clearly an advantage to include Barricade as standard equipment in all fire departments.

“Hot Stuff” from People Weekly

Firefighter John Bartlett picked up a dirty diaper and found a new way to swaddle misbehaving flames. bartlett says his gel can stanch fires as hot as 2,000 degrees. “The fire goes out and stays out,” says one fire chief.

When a fire roared through their Palm Coast, Florida, neighborhood in June, 1998, Jim and Debby Hodges fled so quickly they had to leave their beloved mutt Elvis behind. But that was before off-duty firefighter John Bartlett, from Jupiter, Florida, sprayed the Hodges’ property with his experimental fire-stopping gel. The next morning, they found not only their house untouched by flames but also Elvis’s doghouse blessedly intact ‘with its hunk-a, hunk-a tail-waggin’ love safe inside, burning only with gratitude. “That gel,” says Jim Hodges, “is the best invention since the fire truck.”

Call it a doggone miracle; call it a revolution in firefighting technology. But be sure to call it the best invention ever to come from a dirty diaper. Because if Bartlett hadn’t picked up the one surviving remnant of a Dumpster fire in 1993, he would never have figured out that the super absorbent material used in diapers also has a phenomenal ability to repel heat. Bartlett turned the substance into a sprayable goo, which Bill Kramer, a former fire chief who teaches fire science at the University of Cincinnati, calls “a quantum leap in firefighting.”

Now Bartlett, 45, and his partner Bruce Hill, 42, are marketing the product they call Barricade to homeowners and fire departments alike. The duo have yet to make money, but the Los Angeles Fire Department and Indianapolis International Airport are using it, and with the Federal Aviation Administration wanting to study its uses on airplanes, the inventors hope their fire-safe formula leads to smokin’ profits. After all, says Bartlett, the married father of one son, “we developed it from the bottom up.”

Canada Wildfires

This was Barricade’s first true test under fire!

Fires had been burning for weeks and it was sometimes difficult to distinguish between night and day.

Strike Team Leader Darren Hutchinson and Barricade President John Bartlett were assigned the task of protecting a large lumber mill and log deck storage area.

Darren and John used Barricade to coat the log deck in front of the approaching firestorm. Barricade Gel protected the log deck from burning, thereby saving the lumber mill adjacent to it.

It was estimated that in its first use, Barricade save approximately 60 million dollars’ worth of property!

Florida Wildfires

Severe drought and dry lightning strikes were devastating Central and Northern Florida in the Summer of 1998.

Fire Marshal Bill Nelson called for the Barricade crew of John Bartlett, Bruce Hill and Bobby Wilkins to be dispatched to the location where homes were at risk.

On arrival they witnessed the formation of one of the worst firestorms in Florida’s history. Traveling at over 35 miles per hour and fueled by a Drought Index above 700, the firestorm rapidly approached the community of Palm Coast.

The Barricade crew, racing just in front of the firestorm, coated 20 of the most severely threatened homes with Barricade Gel. All of the 20 homes survived the firestorm completely undamaged. Hundreds of homes were lost that day except for those coated with Barricade.

Florida Power & Light Uses New Fire Protection Technology

Juno Beach , Florida, April 21/PR Newswire/– Florida’s drought-like conditions are sparking brush fires around the state and Florida Power & Light Company is employing new techniques to protect electrical equipment and improve service reliability to its customers.

As the fires advance, FPL crews spray the substance (Barricade Gel) on utility poles, coating their surface with thousands of layers of tiny, water-filled bubbles to prevent a fire from damaging the equipment. The poles don’t burn and the efforts have proved successful in maintaining service for thousands of customers who might have experienced power outages from fire damage. To date FPL has saved approximately 160 poles.

“We lost more than 800 distribution poles from brush fires in Central Florida in 1998,” said Pat Dennison, and FPL distribution specialist. “Had this material (Barricade Gel) been available, we may have saved 80% of those poles!”

Montana Wildfires

Photo credit: John McColgan, BLM, Alaska Fire ServicePhoto credit: John McColgan, BLM, Alaska Fire ServiceUnprecedented drought made the fire season of 2000 one of the worst in Montana’s history.

The fires were so large and intense that homes were evacuated for weeks at a time. Smoke was in the air constantly and new evacuation orders were issued daily.

Firefighting resources were stretched to the breaking point, causing many homeowners to be basically on their own. Hundreds of desperate homeowners purchased Barricade Gel to protect their homes.

Barricade Gel gave these homeowners the opportunity to protect their homes well in front of the approaching fire and then retreat to a safe zone.

Barricade International received many success stories of homes that were saved by homeowners using Barricade Fire Blocking Gel.

Wyoming Wildfire – Jackson Hole

The fires in the summer of 2000 had allowed many fire departments in the Montana and Wyoming areas to stock an inventory of Barricade Gel.

They had also been trained on its use by the Barricade International staff.

When a brush fire threatened Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the call went out for all available Barricade Gel to be brought in. Professional and volunteer firefighters, as well as private fire companies, worked to apply Barricade on as many homes as possible.

Over two hundred homes were coated with Barricade that day. In the end, all of the 200 homes protected by Barricade survived the fire!

Colorado – Hayman Wildfire

Started by the careless actions of a fire professional and fueled by years of drought, the Hayman fire quickly reached gigantic proportions. Hundreds of homes were lost or threatened by this fire.

Barricade International’s President, John Bartlett, was in the area of the fire doing a press release to inform the public that there was something they could do to protect their homes. In fact, John was taken to the front lines to demonstrate what Barricade could do.

The demand for Barricade Gel was nothing short of incredible as hundreds of homeowners flooded Barricade International with requests for their product.

Many Colorado fire departments were praised by local residents for using Barricade Gel to save their homes.