A McLeod to clear the way


Photo by Charles White, via Wikimedia Commons

A recent wildfire on the Isle of Skye, near Portree, is reported to have destroyed nearly 30 acres of land and took local fire fighters 8 hours to contain. (Read full story HERE). Luckily for fire fighters, there is a special tool to help them clear the ground around a fire and help contain it…a McLeod rake!

Named after Malcolm McLeod, a US Forest Service ranger, the McLeod rake is a combination of a heavy duty rake and hoe. Prior to the 1900s, there weren’t any official tools for fighting wildfires in the US. Most fires were fought by local farmers and ranchers using whatever tools and equipment they had on hand, or could be quickly fashioned from available materials. Ranger McLeod was one of the early leaders in developing equipment specifically for firefighting. The McLeod rake is still used to fight wildfires today. Sean Surahara, military liaison for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) described the McLeod rake, “He’s ugly, but he’s important, so we keep him around.” With the origin of the clan name being “Son of Ugly,” it seems fitting that the McLeod tool lives up to its name.

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