Invasive Species Control

As the threats and damage from invasive species have become more prevalent throughout the northwestern United States, Northwest Fire Services (NWFS) has been compelled to investigate the transmission of water-borne invasive species.  Because we pump test fire engines throughout the western United States, Northwest Fire Services remains committed to acting responsibly and protecting the environment.

We at North West Fire Services have conducted our own research for an effective treatment for zebra mussels and other invasive species, and have found that there is a relative lack of information that is specific to fire apparatus.  There is an acute need for clear methods and protocols to safely and reliably decontaminate firefighting equipment and thereby prevent the spread of invasive species.

After discussing the situation with USFS, DNRC, BLM, local fire departments, and conducting our own independent research, North West Fire Services has become convinced that there is only one way to effectively decontaminate fire apparatus at this time.

A product called EarthTec QZ is the only chemical compound on the market today that is actually labeled (i.e., legal) and cost effective for killing zebra and quagga mussels.  It is simple, effective, and inexpensive, and does not require any specialized equipment to implement.  It offers an effective and inexpensive way to ensure there is no transmission of zebra mussels within the fire service operations.

North West Fire Services worked with scientists at EarthTec QZ to come up with a treatment and dosage protocol customized to fire service operations.   In response to questions regarding negative effects on fire equipment, seals, etc., we have taken it upon ourselves to test and found no ill effect on fire equipment at dosages being recommended and used.

With our prior experience in systems engineering and chemical compounding, we are fortunate to be familiar with industrial processes and chemical blending of many types. We believe that a chemical treatment specifically targeted at zebra mussels is the only practical way to effectively decontaminant fire apparatus.  Other methods being proposed and implemented do not effectively take into account the fundamental biology of how mussels live and breed, or the cost of thoroughly decontaminating fire apparatus.

Any pesticide brings with it concerns about the environment and non-target organisms.  When used at recommended doses, EarthTec QZ is safe for use with fish. Sensitive Species in the salmon family – including Cut Throat, Bull Trout, Rainbow, and other trout  warrant special concern, so studies are being done to rule out adverse effects or interactions.  Indications thus far suggest that the amount of product that could ever come into contact with fish is vanishingly small, and of no practical concern.

Northwest Fire Services has a unique tanker setup for pump testing which also is perfect for circulating a potable water chemical solution that will kill veliger and adult zebra mussels along with Eurasian watermilfoil and others over a period of 24 to 48 hours. Northwest Fire Services will circulate and fill fire apparatus and tankers, dose them, and return liquid back to our tanker. This minimizes any loss of water or treatment solution. In doing this, we can service fire apparatus with 2 inch cam-lock for USFS, DNRC, BLM, and other strike crews, all the way up to 6-inch suction. In addition, we have the ability to treat Porta Tanks, Bambi Buckets and air tankers, as we have a 200ft hose reel that can effectively rinse off equipment.

With this treatment, the potable water compatible solution will reside in the tank and any low spots, when the tanks are drained this will prevent all pockets of organisms from surviving.

Northwest Fire Services has not only the equipment, the treatment, and procedure, but also has the unique position with the only patented chemicals meant for treatment that is potable water safe and will allow Northwest Fire Services to safely and effectively stop the spread of zebra mussels in the fire service.

Invasive Species useful links:

News Letter Aquatic Invasive Species

What are Zebra Mussels?

National Invasive Species Information Center (NISIC)

Zebra Mussels and the Pacific Northwest

Montana Field Guide to Zebra Mussels

Montana Aquatic Invasive Mussels

Protecting Northwest Waters from Aquatic Invasive Species

NWCG PMS-444 Guide to Preventing Aquatic Invasive Species Transport by Wildland Fire Operations

Fire Equipment Foot Valve Study Investigating Leakage Potential for Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Transfer


The only EPA labeled products to kill Zebra Mussels in public water supplies:

Control Zebra and Quagga Mussels in a cost-effective and environmentally friendly manner

EarthTec QZ, more Rational Use of Copper

Effectiveness of EarthTec (independent study)

Controlling Harmful Algal Blooms and Quagga Mussels in the Western U.S.

Northwest Fire Services Research Notes: 

Proposed Treatment of Invasive Species for Fire Apparatus

Proposal for Wildland Fire

 Testing corrosion effects of EarthTec treated water on fire equipment materials.



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Slade House

Northwest Fire Service, Inc.
PO Box 821, Bigfork, MT 59911
Phone #: 406-837-0118
Cell #: 406-249-2904