Dragonslayers is a small wildfire hand tool business located in Nehalem, Oregon. Thomas “Troop” Emonds began the company in 2000 after a 23-year career as a U.S. Forest Service and BLM Smokejumper, and following a two-year wildfire tool research and development program funded by a U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Small Business Research and Development Grant.

  • History
  • Training
  • Tools for Fire-Dependent Ecosystems
During his years of service fighting wildfires, Troop experienced and was frustrated by the limitations of the conventional wildfire tools issued to firefighters. Those single-function tools lacked durability, were awkward to use, were not designed for easy transport, and did not allow firefighters versatility and responsiveness at all the changing chores on a fire or an ability to be properly equipped for the diverse assortment of fuels and conditions they would face. Furthermore, the designs of many of the conventional tools were essentially unchanged since their origins in the early 20th century.

Phase I of the grant was to conduct research and to develop a prototype tool to address safety, durability and ergonomic weaknesses of the traditional Pulaski, the mainstay wildfire hand tool of the fire agencies. The improvements developed by Dragonslayers included:

  • improved balance for safety by changing the core material and mass
  • double the width of the grub-hoe blade
  • replaceable grub hoe and axe blades
  • a handle three times stronger and 3 inches longer than the traditional Pulaski
  • a pin-lock detachable handle to allow the tool to be broken down and easily stowed for travel
  • a Pulaski head that could never slip off the handle

This improved version became known as the Dragonslayers “Magnum” Pulaski.

The function and quality of the Magnum Pulaski prototype proved so compelling to the USDA, that the agency extended the hand tool research to a Phase II level to improve all the traditional wildfire hand tools. The objective of the Phase II grant was to consolidate the hand tools, and to improve ergonomics, weight, handiness, and versatility.

One challenge of second phase of research and development, was to utilize the detachable handle that was developed for the Phase I prototype Magnum Pulaski, and to advance all the traditional wildfire hand tools. The Dragonslayers Universal Handle with snap-lock mechanism, was one of the most significant design solutions to address the multitude of conventional single-function tools. The Universal Handle allows firefighters to quickly change tool heads to meet the wildfire field conditions and to work more safely and comfortably.

Many of the designs and innovations in Dragonslayers tools came from listening to line firefighters, while other ideas came from observation and research of firefighting tools and techniques in foreign countries.

Wildfire fighters had expressed a need for an improved hand tool for scraping line and raking leaves in a more upright and more comfortable working position that would allow greater visibility, productivity and effectiveness. Based on that need, Dragonslayers designed and developed the “Troop Tool”, a multi-angled tool to serve many functions:

  • An angled shovel to dig and accurately throw dirt at flare-ups or cool down burning snags;
  • An improved McLeod scraping tool with a curved blade to remove litter on the forest floor;
  • An improved fire rake or Eastern Council tool with a high back to clear a swath through leaves;
  • A stand erect mixing, chinking and mop-up tool with shovel point hitting ground first; and
  • A safety staff for cross-country travel on steep and unstable terrain.
  • The Magnum Pulaski and Troop Tool are the most popular Dragonslayers tools because of their tremendous versatility.

Following development of the Magnum Pulaski and Troop Tool, Dragonslayers went on to design and develop other wildlife hand tools to assist firefighters – the Dragon Swatter for use in grasslands and an excellent prescribed burning tool; the Tony Pad Swatter for Arctic Taiga ecosystems;  the Bonnie Hammer, a combination tool with a steel wedge head on one side and a Magnum Pulaski blade on the other and; the Titanium Core Felling Axe Head, a felling axe or superior strength and performance.

The globe is in a warming period. The United States is faced with wildfires that are more explosive and hotter than ever before. To meet this challenge, Dragonslayers provides homeowners, particularly those living in the urban/wildlands interface, with assistance in developing property wildfire protection plans. Utilizing your plat map and aerial photos obtained at your county tax collector’s office, Dragonslayers will build a custom plan for your property or neighborhood. We will detail how to reduce risk by converting vegetation on the property and by using a pattern of prescribed fires to systematically reduce fuels to reduce risk of wildfire around dwellings and properties.

Dragonslayers can also conduct a two-day fire program to train urban/wildlands interface dwellers to position critical sites to be ever-ready to burn out light fuels, and to become confident, experienced users of fire as a management tool.

Please contact Troop Emonds by email (troop.dragonslayers@yahoo.com) or phone (503/812-6974) to discuss your training needs and costs for services.

Our customers include:

  • Homeowners living in areas of high wildfire risk
  • Insurance companies
  • Rural fire departments
  • County building departments
  • Home security firms
  • Federal, state and local fire agencies
  • The military

Dragonslayers Wildfire Hand Tools are ideal tools for management of fire-dependent ecosystems or when managing for multiple objectives such as protection of timber, rangeland improvement, hazardous fuels reduction, wildlife habitat improvement, or reintroduction of fire into fire-adapted ecosystems.

Dragonslayers tools are in use for prescribed burning by the Entiat IHC in Washington, by the Prineville IHC in Oregon and other IHCs throughout the western United States. Nonprofit conservation organizations have purchased tools to manage prescribed fire in critical wildlife habitat and fire-dependent ecosystems in California and Washington.

The tools are popular because of their ease of use, compact design, durability, and the because of the effectiveness of the Dragon Swatter in controlling prescribed fire in grassland and oak/grass and Ponderosa pine/grass ecosystems.

The durability and longevity of the tools are particularly attractive benefits for multi-year prescribed burn programs of long duration. Tools are backed by warranty and parts subject to heavy wear such as blades and handles can be replaced by Dragonslayers at a modest cost.  All Dragonslayers have a one-year warranty.  Program budgets can be more accurately predicted by program managers, knowing that the tools will last multiple years and not just the one or two years common to the conventional fire tools.