indeed, raking fire lines is essential
, fire rake
A fire rake is a wildland fire fighting tool. A fire rake has a wooden or fiberglass handle with a rake head consisting of four sharp, serrated, triangular steel blades. It is used to rake a fire break with the sharp teeth, enabling it to reach fire in undergrowth in addition to loose surface debris. A McLeod, which is sometimes called a rake hoe, is a similar tool whose rake portion looks more like a steel rake but with sharp edges on the teeth. The teeth of the more traditional fire rake which resemble the teeth of a great white shark allow it to penetrate deeper into the undergrowth when necessary. The preference for one implement over the other is somewhat subjective.
A fire fighter will rake burning material back into the (black) area already burned, moving the fire away from the fuel ahead of it to create a fire break. The burning material is left to burn itself out away from the edge of the fire line, or another fire fighter with a fire flapper will smother it if required. The tool will cut through any undergrowth that may be burning and overturn some soil, further assisting in creating a fire break, thus smothering fire. This can reduce the temperature of burning materials below their threshold of ignition.
Given that the variant McLeod (tool)
was invented in 1905 by the eponymous US Forest Service Ranger McLeod, at the Sierra National Forest, it would indeed be ironic if the Finns use them but the US Forest Service no longer does
As wiki notes,
The McLeod was designed to rake fire lines with the teeth and cut branches and sod with the sharpened hoe edge
As for cleaning forests, doing things such as removing dead trees helps prevent forest fires.
edit: I've just seen the WaPo correction. Did they really not know that a fire rake was a thing?