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Versatility Is a Must for Calif. Company

Tri-Max® Cold Compressed Foam Systems Simplify Fire Safety for Warner Enterprises

By Diane M. Calabrese
Date Posted: 2/1/2007

REDDING, California — Pieces never just fall into place. A capable hand must fit them together in a meaningful way. At Warner Enterprises Inc., the hand belongs to Paul Warner, president and founder of the company.

        “We do a number of things, pri­marily…timber management and timber harvesting,” said Paul. “We do conventional timber harvesting, biomass production for bio-generation (of electric power)…In the past, we’ve been involved in contracting for fire suppression equipment. We also have a dust-abatement part of the business. We do brush mastication to encourage tree growth and reduce fuels.”

        Paul incorporated Warner Enterprises in 1978. His son, Gary, vice president and secretary-treasurer, has been with the business full-time since graduating from Biola University in 1994. Paul is an alumnus of Humboldt State University.

        While Paul was studying forestry in college, he worked at a job that involved fire suppression. He is knowledgeable about fire science and risk and appreciates federal and state fire safety regulations.

        With operations involving heavy equipment, hydraulic lines, high ambient temperature, dry conditions and wood, there is an elevated risk of fire. Logging and chipping operations require care and adequate safety precautions to prevent fire.

        Warner Enterprises has been working on a 12,000-acre tract in Corning, Calif. for several years, harvesting and chipping eucalyptus trees that were planted in the early 1990s. “Eucalyptus is a major thrust of our company right now,” said Paul. About 500 acres of the tract are cut each year, allowing plenty of space for the fast-growing trees to regenerate from stumps that regrow. The trees are felled, skidded and chipped by machines on-site.

        The chipping is done by two Precision Husky Corp. whole-tree chippers, a model 2375 and a model 2366, that are towed to job sites. Each chipper has been retrofitted with a Tri-Max® 3, or 3-gallon, mobile fire foam suppression system.

        Warner Enterprises has other Tri-Max fire suppression systems at the ready, including ones that kept at the landings in a pickup truck.

        Tri-Max systems use cold compressed air foam (CAF) technology, so they are compact and easy to use. In fact, the simplicity of the systems enables workers to quickly put them into operation to extinguish a fire. That’s important, noted Paul.

        “The big advantage of the Tri-Max 30 is it’s so easy to operate — just turn a valve and point the nozzle,” said Paul. “Ease to operate is most important.”

        Warner Enterprises faces strict regulations when working on federal lands, and Paul is very familiar with them. The company does considerable work removing undergrowth that could kindle a forest fire. The Tri-Max systems generally eliminate the requirement to have a fire trailer with a pump and hose unit, explained Paul.

        Warner Enterprises still has some water tank trucks, but Tri-Max offers a fast, first line of defense against fire. In many fire situations, slashing just seconds from response time makes the difference between reigning in a blaze or the flames spreading out of control.

        One of Paul’s crews was working with a chipper in the early 1990s when the machine caught fire. “We lost it,” he recalled. After that, he realized the need for a fire suppression system that could be activated quickly, and he chose Tri-Max.

        The Tri-Max systems soon proved their worth. Another chipper caught fire about six years ago, but the operator was able to halt it with the Tri-Max 3.

        Using Tri-Max CAF systems gives Warner Enterprises a boost in several ways. The U.S. Forest Service has a complex system for rating fire hazards, Paul noted. “Some of the variances have to do with having Tri-Max on site, which extends hours we can work.”

        New logging equipment operating in fire-prone areas is equipped with onboard fire suppression systems, said Paul. Subcontractors used by Warner Enterprises often add a Tri-Max system to augment fire safety.

        Warner Enterprises is equipped with a variety of machines, including two (Komatsu Forest) Valmet 603 feller-bunchers, a Morbark Wolverine feller-buncher; two delimbers (a CAT and a Komatsu, both of which are fitted with Denis DT3000 delimbers), a CAT D6, a CAT 12 grader, five Timberjack 460 skidders, and two Franklin brush mowers — a three-wheeled model 3650 that can be fitted with a shear or a Fecon brush-head and a four-wheeled model 4550. Several water trucks are in use, all of them pulled by Kenworth tractors.

        Warner Enterprises has 15 employees. The company works in forests of mixed conifers, white fir, Ponderosa pine, incense cedar and Douglas fir. The eucalyptus plantation accounts for much of the work load right now. It was originally planted for pulp in the early 1990s by a company that later ceased operations.

        Throughout his tenure as a business owner, Paul has maintained his commitment to forestry. “I am a registered forester in California,” he said. For a time following college, Paul considered a career as a forester. Then he started down the path of an entrepreneur and stayed on it.

        For a while before launching Warner Enterprises, he drove a truck used in fire suppression, and he worked for a large timber company. Originally, he thought that Warner Enterprises would focus on consulting for landowners to plan harvests, but within a few years he added actual harvesting operations.

        “The idea of generating power from wood started in the early 1980s — 1983 or 1984 — with the energy crisis,” said Paul. “California has a significant component” of grid energy derived from bio-generation.

        A native of the Sacramento Valley, Paul’s parents fostered his interest in the natural world. His father was employed by the state Department of Natural Resources. “My family was kind of natural resources oriented — backpacking, hunting, fishing,” he said.

        Warner Enterprises is headquartered in Redding, a city of 84,000 in the north-central part of the Golden State.

        On occasion the company works quite close to home. Corning, the location of the eucalyptus tract, is 50 miles south of Redding. Most job sites are in the surrounding or adjacent counties, but the crews have worked on jobs as far away as Arizona and Nevada.

        The federal government is actively reducing fuels on national forest lands. Warner Enterprises gets involved in such projects under service contracts. “We take out ladder fuel to discourage burning,” said Paul. “Then, we can market the material.” Much of it is sold to bio-generators.

        Having fought forest fires during his college years, Paul values the role that Warner Enterprises plays in helping to prevent forest fires. And he welcomes Tri-Max systems in keeping his work sites safe.

        Tri-Max systems are first and foremost reliable. “We’ve never had one that failed,” said Paul. “They’re pretty bullet-proof. You do have to keep the air pump charged.” That’s it.

        Maintaining Tri-Max systems takes minimum effort. “We have them serviced during the winter,” said Paul. Tri-Max sends its staff on-site to do inspections.

        Training employees how to use Tri-Max systems is pretty simple, according to Paul. “It’s so easy” to use a Tri-Max CAF system, he explained, employees learn quickly.

        If an employer requests it, Tri-Max will send staff to help with training. “The people at Tri-Max, especially Doug Waisner, have been very available to us as far as training,” said Paul. “They’ve been very user friendly.”

        The streamlined structure of a Tri-Max CAF system derives from expert design. Dave Mahrt, the owner of Kingsway Sales & Marketing in Redding, Calif. is the man behind the Tri-Max CAF system. The former U.S. Army aviation warrant officer was a helicopter pilot during the Vietnam era. He learned firsthand about the fire hazard of aviation fuel vapors. Dave became engaged with the idea of developing a fire suppression system that could both blanket a fire to cut off the supply of oxygen and also seal off vapors (new fuel).

        During a 20-year stint as a contract, fire-fighting helicopter operator for the U.S. Forest Service, Dave got serious about developing a better approach to a fire extinguisher. He devoted a great deal of
time to the effort and succeeded in building the extinguisher and a thriving family business.

        Dave sold his first Tri-Max systems to the U.S. military. The forest products industry has been using his company’s system for more than 10 years, buying thousands of Tri-Max systems.

        The Tri-Max 3 and Tri-Max 30 systems used at Warner Enterprises belong to a group of Tri-Max CAF systems. The line of systems includes the Tri-Max 60 and the Tri-Max 120 for larger applications and the Tri-Max 280 Twin Agent system that dispenses foam and chemical agents.

        Tri-Max systems are built on the less-is-more principle. From a relatively small container, they produce the maximum amount of foam possible; the foam travels fast and far and with enough force to get to the spot it is needed and to stick there.

        At the crux of the Tri-Max system is a patented scheme for injecting cold, compressed air into a water-foam concentrate. The Tri-Max CAF achieves foam expansion at a ratio of 20:1 or beyond. (With
air-aspirating nozzles, the ratio would be less than 10:1.) The Tri-Max CAF is the core of a Kingsway product line that now includes a Tri-Max AUTO CAF, capable of detecting and suppressing onboard engine and hydraulic compartment fires, vapor-sealing (VDH) systems and HAZMAT equipment.

        Getting it right is something Paul and Gary take to heart. “We have a reputation for integrity and honesty,” said Gary. “We do a good, quality job.” The good jobs gain notice.

        Spreading the word about how logging is done and why logging matters counts, too. “We take schools, as many classes as we can, into the woods,” said Gary. “It’s really important to the future of what we want to do in the woods to win the hearts and minds of people by dispelling some of the myths about logging.”

        Gary earned a degree in communications with specialization in radio, television and film. He spent time in sports broadcasting before he decided to commit to a career in the timber industry, where he had early experience. College years were a mix of study and work. “I spent my summers working in the woods, running equipment,” said Gary. “I learned to run every piece of equipment.” The hands-on training served him well because he supervises most field operations today.

        “I suppose just the freedom of being an entrepreneur” is one of the best things about owning the business, said Paul. Flexibility is a crucial part of the role. “This eucalyptus harvesting is something no one else is doing” out here, he said. “Creating markets, being able to plan and create new jobs — just being able to put a program together and see it work” is rewarding, he explained.

        “From early on, my dad’s number one goal of his company has been focused on his employees,” said Gary. He explained his father is “people-oriented” and considers “a crew more like a family.” It is a philosophy that has fostered loyalty among employees.

        For his part, Gary enjoys the challenge of the timber industry. Being able to “match equipment and people with a changing environment and meet needs of what’s coming down the line” keeps him busy, he said.

        “We rarely cut trees over 20 inches,” said Gary, “if we cut saw logs at all…” That’s how much change there has been during the 28-year history of Warner Enterprises. “Just managing the parts of the business” is exciting, he explained. “Now, it’s all mechanical, mastication, small tree removal, fuel breakers…” In other words, being versatile is a must.

        Participation in logging organizations is also essential. “We’re members of Associated California Loggers and Sierra-Cascade Loggers,” said Paul.

        As for free time, Paul has a definite passion. “I’m a motor sports enthusiast,” he said. He has restored a Ford 1940 convertible and he owns a 1927 Roadster racer that he drives in local drag racing competitions. Paul also enjoys spending time with his children and grandchildren, all of whom live in the area.

        Gary has three children and he relishes spending his open hours with his family. Following in her grandfather’s footsteps, Gary’s daughter has become a junior dragster driver, so he and his family often see Paul at a Saturday race.


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