Fire flapper (tool)

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Four steel flappers in Denmark
Fire-beaters on the island of Cheung Chau, Hong Kong

A flapper is a wildland firefighting tool also called a swatter or a beater. It is designed for extinguishing minor fires in rural areas such as heaths. A flapper is built with a long handle and a series of lamellas which allows firefighters to stand well back from the fire. The lamellas are constructed in either rubber or steel, though practically any other fireproof material could be used.

The fire is attacked from the wind-side by lightly swatting out the flames or glows with the thick flap. When the flapper hits the ground oxygen supply to the fire is stopped and the fire will be extinguished. Where ground cover is short, the flapper can be dragged along the fire edge to smother the fire. If used too hard it can add more oxygen to the fire. It is often recommended to either hose water on the area or keep it under observation, as there will always be a risk of it flaring up later.

Due to a flapper's small size it is unfit for use against a blazing forest fire or large burning fields. The tool's design makes it only suitable for minor flames or glows within a limited area. For fire fighting in larger areas it is much more convenient to take out hoses from a fire engine and spray selected areas. Alternatively a water cannon from a water tender can be used.

A flapper is often part of the standard equipment on a fire engine and may also be set up inside and around forests and at heaths in order to take immediate action if a fire is seen.

The flapper's technique has been developed from using a wet green pine bough to swat the fire known as "wet sacking" a fire.

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Media related to Fire flappers at Wikimedia Commons