The Forest Service team in San Dimas studied the airship plans and found that the artificial rain dropped from a blimp might dissipate before it hit the ground, Bambarger said. And because blimps move so slowly, 20 blimps would be needed in the Los Angeles region alone to make sure one was within range of a fire.
At an estimated $60 million a pop, Bambarger said, "It doesn't make economic sense to have a watering can that does the same thing as the aircraft we already have."
Other well-intended inventors have submitted what they hoped were cutting-edge proposals, such as using halon gas instead of flame retardant foam because the gas leaves no residue. Good idea, Bambarger said, except that halon has been outlawed because it can be 10 times more damaging to the ozone than chlorofluorocarbons, a better known ozone destroyer.
When it comes to innovative firefighting, said Forest Service Specialist Ralph Taylor, the ideas more likely to reach production are subtle.