Steve Lange from “Rochester Magazine” recently wrote about the continued partnership of STOP-FYRE by AKE Safety Equipment and the National Tractor Pullers Association. We are proud of that partnership and wanted to share the article with you:
The sport of tractor pulling has come a long way since the 1950s and ‘60s, when fans flocked to the county fairs to watch the 50-horsepower tractors in the era of machines that would “pull on Sunday and plow on Monday.”
Pulling continued to get more high-tech and to gain popularity, and by the late 1960s, the sport was ready to expand beyond its regional roots. But the rules often varied from fair to fair. Safety standards were nonexistent. There were no helmets or firesuits or scatter shields. In some shows, in order to add weight during a pull, spectators would jump on the sled as it moved down the track.
So, in 1969, representatives from pulling organizations in eight states got together to establish uniform rules and set safety standards. That year, the National Tractor Pullers Association was born.Today, 44 years later, drivers pull high-tech, 65,000-pound weight-transfer sledges behind 5,000-hp tractors often considered the most powerful vehicles in the world. And the NTPA continues to set the safety standards, literally, for the nationwide series of tractor and truck pulling competitions.
In a sport driven by ethanol and alcohol, one of the NTPA’s highest priorities is fire safety. And, for the third straight year, the organization has named STOP-FYRE as The Official Fire Extinguisher of the NTPA.“We take our fire safety very seriously,” says Larry Richwine, the National Head of Tech and Safety for NTPA. “And our experience with STOP-FYRE has shown us it really is ‘The World’s Best Fire Extinguisher.’”
“We’re honored to have an even bigger presence with this great organization,” says Allen Kronebusch, who owns AKE Safety Equipment, the maker of STOP-FYRE. “Our focus is on fire safety for our customers, and we know STOP-FYRE is a great fit for the NTPA.” The NTPA agrees. Since 2011, when STOP-FYRE was first named The Official Fire Extinguisher, the compact extinguisher has impressed everyone from NTPA’s drivers to track officials.
Earl Wiseman, an NTPA Track and Tech Official, was impressed by STOP-FYRE’s non-corrosive chemical agents. Those agents mean that, if the extinguisher is used, pullers won’t face the expensive repairs caused by the residue from dry chemical extinguishers. “I’ve used foam, dry chemical, CO2–those all leave residue that can get inside and destroy the motor,” says Wiseman. “These pullers have extreme amounts of money in these vehicles and we respect that.”
Puller Tarry Feiss has seen firsthand the mess left from traditional extinguishers. “When I had my first fire with my truck, I was amazed by the mess that the traditional fire extinguishers made,” she says. “After they put out the fire [with the dry chemical extinguisher], we had to spend the whole day getting the truck ready. We had to chisel and chip and shower it to clean it off … it was really a dirty mess. From what I’ve seen of the STOP-FYRE, it would have put the fire out with no mess.”
In his 40 years of photographing tractor pulls, Dave Dann has seen his share of fires. “Over the decades, having witnessed multiple fire instances, the end result has always been a horrendous mess of white powder all over the vehicles,” Dann says. “I’ve seen numerous times that STOP-FYRE has efficiently and quickly extinguished the fire with none of that residual mess.”
Most importantly, though, drivers and officials point to the attributes that make STOP-FYRE ideal for tractor pulls, like its size (roughly 12-by-3 inches–perfect for in-cab storage) and safety features (its proprietary blend of liquefied gases expands to fight engine fires you can’t see directly). Those are the things that save lives in a truck or tractor fire.
For Allen Kronebusch, the Minnesota firefighter who has been continuously improving STOP-FYRE for 20-plus years, the renewed partnership represents the thing that means the most to AKE Safety Equipment–saving lives and property. “The NTPA is an organization that treats its people like family,” says Kronebusch. “They do things the right way, and we’re just happy to be part of that family. So when we hear those stories about STOP-FYRE, when we see how we’ve made things safer, it just reinforces what we’ve believed for 20-some years, that we’re here for a bigger purpose–to save livelihoods and lives.”
NTPA safety guru Larry Richwine, a guy who built his first tractor in high school and who’s been involved in the sport for nearly 40 years, recounts one of those stories.“One driver had an oil and fuel fire,” says Richwine. “Trackside fire extinguishers–CO2, dry powder, and everything else–were used. Nothing. Our flagmen all carry STOP-FYRE and they walked up and ‘Poof!’ the fire was out. The fire departments that were there said ‘What is that?’ and we said ‘It’s STOP-FYRE. The World’s Best Fire Extinguisher.’”
Harold Phipps, an NTPA Track and Tech official for 20 years, was on the scene. “The size of the fire was such that I could not see the vehicle anymore,” Phipps says. “It was just like a wall of flames. I was able to use STOP-FYRE to extinguish the fire and get the young man off the tractor.”
First-year puller Tyler Slagh was that young man. “It was a ball of flames,” he says, “and they put it right out. If STOP-FYRE can save me, what can it save for you?”
To find out what STOP-FYRE can save for you, or how to become a dealer, call 888-673-4734 or check out AKE.com.