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Pasco briefs

By Times staff writers

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 27, 2001

Fire Department tests chemical to fight fires

DADE CITY -- Black smoke rising over the north end of town Thursday wasn'tanything for firefighters to fear, but instead something for them to ponder.

The Fire Department was testing a chemical that could someday replace foam as a firefighter's weapon of choice against stubborn fires.

The chemical, called F-500, is a soaplike emulsifier.

Firefighters were trying the chemical agent on car fires at the department's training ground at Whitehouse Avenue and 12th Street on Thursday.

Capt. Joey Wubbena said the new product mixes with water to attack the chemical reactions taking place inside a raging fire. The chemical agent is biodegradable -- unlike some standard firefighting foams -- and works equally well on wood, grass, petroleum or chemical fires. It's also cheaper than foam.

Wubbena said the department has been testing all week, but wanted to tackle a really hot fire Thursday. The black smoke was visible from Meridian Avenue and U.S. 301 on Thursday morning.

Wubbena said officials will evaluate the results of this week's testing and decide if the chemical will replace the foam the department has depended on for years.

Final bike trail segments on parkway to open soon

LAND O'LAKES -- The last two segments of the bicycle trail along the Suncoast Parkway will open in the next two weeks.

The first section, from State Road 54 to the future interchange of Ridge Road Extension, opens Saturday. The other section, from Lutz Lake Fern Road north to SR 54, opens May 5.

In a rush to open the parkway, the Florida Turnpike District completed only 21 miles of the 29-mile paved bike trail by the toll road's Feb. 4 opening. Work crews have spent the past three months paving and installing fences on the last portion. Completed, the trail will run from Lutz Lake Fern Road in Hillsborough County to State Road 50 in Hernando County.

The 12-foot-wide asphalt path features a trail head, complete with a parking lot, at SR 54, as well as several rest areas for bicyclists and pedestrians.

An additional 10 miles of the trail, from SR 50 to U.S. 98 in Hernando, is scheduled to open in November 2002.

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