Rugged Pentax K-5 IIs DSLR Gets Doused with Pink Fire Retardant During Blaze and Keeps on Firing

Photographers loved the now-discontinued Pentax K-5 IIs DSLR for its rugged, magnesium body and it’s weatherproof/cold-resistant design. Brian Maneely is one such shooter whose Penax K-5 IIs recently survived being doused with fire retardant and then hosed off with water while shooting a California wildfire.

After reading on the Ricoh Imaging Facebook page about how his Pentax K5 IIs got splattered with the pink, chemical retardant and amazingly still worked fine, we decided to contact Maneely and get some more details on what happened.

Maneely, who lives in the small town of Ukiah in Northern California, is experienced in photographing wildfires and understands the intricate choreography that ground and airborne fire-fighting crews use to battle a blaze. As he told us, however, he got one detail wrong when shooting this fire:

“I expected the bomber plane to make its drop from North to South, but it veered at the last moment and came toward me standing completely exposed on the roof of my house.” As the plane began dropping fire retardant, Maneely recalled an earlier lesson he learned about being fearless when capturing a moment, and he kept on firing.

“I knew this was a shot I didn’t want to miss,” he explained, “and I held down the shutter button as the plane ascended directly in line with the sun.”

As you can see, Maneely’s fearlessness paid off with some great images, although he and his camera got hit with a blast of the retardant. Ever stalwart, Maneely simply hosed himself and the camera off and continued shooting.

Fortunately, both he and the Pentax K-5 IIs are still fully functional, although the camera retains the distinctive splatter marks of the fire retardant—perhaps as a badge of courage.

You can read about another photographer's adventure with shooting planes dropping retardant to put out a wildfire in Yosemite in our inteview with Bill Hatcher here.