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ADF Fire fighting

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ADF Fire fighting

Old 15th Nov 2019, 04:48
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ADF Fire fighting

A number of years back an individual in the RAN had done all the work to have the helo's signed off for bucket's. At the last minute it went fitzzz. Mid 90's the RAAF were looking at a CL 125 ( I think) which also could have been used for some SAS work as well as fire fighting. Why at the time do we not have helo operation that include fire fighting capabilities. I know it blows out flying hours and the budget but if we can and do provide humanitarian aid why is this not factored in as part of the ADF remit?
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Old 15th Nov 2019, 05:29
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"Aid to the Civil Power" requires a lot of justification. All the civil avenues of performing the task have to be exploited, otherwise somebody will bleat that the Army has taken his job on the fire lines.

Wiring for a bucket would need extensive testing by ARDU, and then every aircraft of that type would need to be fitted, the crews trained, blah and blah. Military aircraft have enough stuff in them without extra wires for a "just in case" exercise.

Mil aircraft are designed to START fires, not put them out.
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Old 15th Nov 2019, 06:01
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Originally Posted by Ascend Charlie View Post
"Aid to the Civil Power" requires a lot of justification. All the civil avenues of performing the task have to be exploited, otherwise somebody will bleat that the Army has taken his job on the fire lines.

Wont happens Rural fire fighters are a volunteer and not paid

In australia for disaster relief, while it does vary between states, there is a long standing and running agreement that the military can be used in disaster relief at the request of the state govt and the permission of the commonwealth govt. I have never heard of it being rejected, where I live the army has multiple times been called in assist, heck last one was february when they when they used armored vehicles for flood evacuations. Time before that after a cyclone there was section of military going around and providing manual labor the a civilian emergency services clearing down trees because they weren't allowed to use chainsaws. From what I understand the only legal issue is that they are not covered by good samaratin laws while officially working for the ADF


During the cyclone season there is always landing ships (Choules, Canberra or adelaide) designated for be ready to respond to cyclones on the northern coast or in the pacific at request on state or foreign governments

Our MRH - 90 are bambi bucket certified, I believe chinooks are as well, there bambi black hawks operating but they are civilian from the US. Our hueys are certified and theres a dozen ex military operating atm, one crashed last friday

(navy MRH-90 and seahawks have been bucket certified and trained, dunno if that is still current and if that rolls over the army MRH-90 / blackhawks https://news.navy.gov.au/en/Nov2014/Fleet/1624/MRH90-Preparing-for-Bushfire-Season.htm_

Last edited by rattman; 15th Nov 2019 at 06:14.
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Old 15th Nov 2019, 21:54
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Originally Posted by rattman View Post
Wont happens Rural fire fighters are a volunteer and not paid

In australia for disaster relief, while it does vary between states, there is a long standing and running agreement that the military can be used in disaster relief at the request of the state govt and the permission of the commonwealth govt. I have never heard of it being rejected, where I live the army has multiple times been called in assist, heck last one was february when they when they used armored vehicles for flood evacuations. Time before that after a cyclone there was section of military going around and providing manual labor the a civilian emergency services clearing down trees because they weren't allowed to use chainsaws. From what I understand the only legal issue is that they are not covered by good samaratin laws while officially working for the ADF


During the cyclone season there is always landing ships (Choules, Canberra or adelaide) designated for be ready to respond to cyclones on the northern coast or in the pacific at request on state or foreign governments

Our MRH - 90 are bambi bucket certified, I believe chinooks are as well, there bambi black hawks operating but they are civilian from the US. Our hueys are certified and theres a dozen ex military operating atm, one crashed last friday

(navy MRH-90 and seahawks have been bucket certified and trained, dunno if that is still current and if that rolls over the army MRH-90 / blackhawks https://news.navy.gov.au/en/Nov2014/Fleet/1624/MRH90-Preparing-for-Bushfire-Season.htm_
Not sure you're fully briefed on civil fire ops? We're talking here about aviation support and unlike many volunteer firefighters in Australia, the aviation support is NOT unpaid. We invest very heavily in equipment and personnel and do expect a fair opportunity to gain income from that investment: not an unreasonable expectation and gets to the point of Ascend Charlie post. When the chips are down we expect all assets to be used and would welcome trained and certified aircraft (rotary and fixed wing) but the ADF isn't always able to resond accordingly. Indeed, the only Mil assets I worked with were Squirrels in the Firebird role, and a Sea King for transport/sling support. The latter was a bit of a cluster as I had a machine sitting idle but a drone in DSE reported nothing available so the SK was brought in after much paperwork; then the VicPol Superintendent responsible for getting the SK flew in my machine, asked how busy it had been and promptly asked some pointed questions of the DSE when I let him know the machine had been idle for a week: and it was a very capable Helitack, not just a freighter!

So Ascend Charlie makes a very valid point, as the civil fleet is fit for purpose, whereas the Mil fleet may well be but only up to a point.

ps the crash this last week was a McDermott Aviation Bell 214B, which is neither a Huey nor an ex-Mil machine as you infer And the civvie Blackhawk/Firehawks are extensively modified for Helitack ops, including belly tank fit.
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 01:24
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Ascend Charlie. I take your point WRT contractor's missing out on money but unless the "govnmint" is confident that they have contracted sufficient assets for the worst possible scenario (given our current situation and we have not even hit summer) then having a back up is highly desirable. As far as training, most (if not all) ADF helo's carry underslung loads. I would not have thought it to difficult to train in pressing the tit to release the water (as opposed to pressing the tit to pickle the load when it becomes rotor bound)and become aware of the hazards associated with fire bombing from thermals to birds etc. I understand that the ADF is for "starting fires" and may well be committed elsewhere to do so but there will always be a few around in the training role.

John valid point on aircraft being fit for purpose but an underslung load with the ability to dump I would have thought was all that was needed. Certainly just a bystander and no expert so happy to be corrected and just wondering why not use the machines when we do use the personal.
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 03:42
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Peat fires were a regular occurrence in the Falklands, so the resident Chook was capable of carrying a 5t bucket and the crews did a familiarisation exercise on arrival. It was hardly onerous, but added a huge capability. However, the fact the Poms did it is probably the reason for the Australians not to I suppose; gotta love the hard way.
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 06:20
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pressing the tit to release the water (as opposed to pressing the tit to pickle the load
This is exactly the point. Pressing the tit opens the hook and drops whatever is on it. If you have a bucketful of water on the hook, you don't want to drop the whole bucket as well. It requires specific wiring to release the plug on the bucket, not drop the bucket.

Many a bucket has been dropped on a fire, or in the dam while dipping up a new load, through finger trouble, pressing the wrong tit.

Certainly just a bystander and no expert so happy to be corrected
Consider yourself corrected.
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 07:56
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Originally Posted by minigundiplomat View Post
Peat fires were a regular occurrence in the Falklands, so the resident Chook was capable of carrying a 5t bucket and the crews did a familiarisation exercise on arrival.
.....
over the 1435 Q Shed ISTR
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 11:22
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Ascend Charlie, sorry don’t see the merit in that correction. If buckets have been inadvertently pickled through finger trouble it is obviously not the ADF that have done that but the trained and /or experienced fire fighters which will occur through human error. Considering the number of buttons that the Mil operators have to press that do start fires I think that their inadvertent bucket release rate would be lower than non mil operators.
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 17:33
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I'd tend to see this from the POV that if say the Californian fires were caused by a foreign power can you imagine the fury the the president would react with.
Yet, it seems, some small minded commanders quibble about a few hours bucket training and being taken off task - what task could be more important????

I'm surprised the RAAF C-130J's don't have the pallet fitted retardant dropper like the ANG use - seems a no brainer but must be a reason??
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Old 16th Nov 2019, 21:07
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This is exactly the point. Pressing the tit opens the hook and drops whatever is on it. If you have a bucketful of water on the hook, you don't want to drop the whole bucket as well. It requires specific wiring to release the plug on the bucket, not drop the bucket.
The wiring follows the sling up to the cabin; the crewman releases the water from the cabin. There can be no confusion, the person with the hook jettison switch, is not the person flicking a switch to dump water. If that's not the case, its your SOP's that are wrong, not the concept.

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Old 17th Nov 2019, 02:16
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Originally Posted by minigundiplomat View Post
The wiring follows the sling up to the cabin; the crewman releases the water from the cabin. There can be no confusion, the person with the hook jettison switch, is not the person flicking a switch to dump water. Ifhat's not the case, its your SOP's that are wrong, not the concept.
Crewman? What crewman

Another indication of the misunderstanding of professional aerial firefighting: no commercial operation can afford to take out 100 litres in exchange for talking ballast. The wiring for the bucket operation (many multi dump these days, not just one load) is usually integral in the cyclic or collective hence Ascend Charlie comments, which are from the knowledge base of civil operations. Not decrying the use of a crewman if power and payload are to spare, eg Chinook, but intense campaign fires don't have that luxury in the Australian heat and conditions.

I'd dearly like to see a planned military backup available for intense bushfires, but this inevitable knee jerk reaction demanding unplanned firefront support helps no-one in the short term. Best support at the moment is for Firebird/Observation use of Mil plus transport: currently KC-30 from 33 Squadron RAAF are flying support CFA firefighters from/back to Victoria to give a rest to the RFS troops in Queensland and NSW.

Long term the States need to get their act together (along with NAFC) and stop the blame game. Ultimate insult today is the Queensland Premier calling out the Federal Government to buy a C-130, in spite of the VLAT availability negotiated between States for many years. Queensland has been well known for poor investment in firefighting support, and all States have responsibility for their own fire brigades but suddenly the green eyed monster has awoken because NSW have invested in their own 737 and Queensland hasn't!!
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Old 17th Nov 2019, 04:00
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Hi John. As indicated in the start of the post there have been, a number of years ago, the idea and consideration of the ADF having the potential to be able to provide an aerial fire fighting capability. Nothing is going to get off the ground this year let alone next year even if signed off on. I may have missed the post that asked the ADF to be involved now. I appreciate the feedback on contractors, training and other requirements but as you indicated it would be great to have the ADF as a backup. The mil operators are trained to a high level for the roles they perform. Given the ADF helo pilots (for the most part) are trained in under slung loads I don't see it being a large training requirement to include buckets and fire fighting.

Perhaps NSW needs to invest a bit more in aerial equipment which they can than lease to the other states
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Old 17th Nov 2019, 10:45
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Originally Posted by finestkind View Post

Perhaps NSW needs to invest a bit more in aerial equipment which they can than lease to the other states
Or maybe the federal govt should buy some additional ones, have them spread around australia so there one capital city, when required they can fly them to where needed, as they still have a passenger compartments you could fly over the ground crews + 100ish extra firefighters.

The feds should pony up for scheme that has some of the large air tankers and based at RAAF bases around the country as well have having groups of firefighters that are still volunteers but paid when mobilised so they can deploy in the aircraft and assist local fighters on the ground when needed. Who knows might be some cheap maxs to convert into LATS coming up soon
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Old 21st Nov 2019, 02:05
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It's now a number of years ago, but certainly in the early 2000s Navy was both equipped with bambi buckets for S-70B and Squirrel (not that they could carry much) and trained in their use. We were involved in a number of fire fighting activities in that era. Whether that capability is still maintained with the new aircraft types I don't know.
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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 00:48
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Is the F/A 18 capable of supersonic flight at sea level. If so these aircraft could be used for fire suppression.
An aircraft capable of exceeding the speed of sound (Mach 1) creates a sonic boom along its flight path. The pressure differential can easily blow out windows and therefore flames. The sonic boom continues along the flight path of the aircraft, covering approximately one mile of ground per 1000ft of altitude.
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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 01:56
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Go one step better and do what Forrest Trump suggested, dropping Nookular Bombs to blow out the flames.
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Old 22nd Nov 2019, 04:24
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I'd start with stopping burning coal and oil!!! Until that happens it's going to spiral out of control.

And I'd managing retreat from many areas.

Buckle up It's going to be an interesting ride!
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 01:13
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Go one step better and do what Forrest Trump suggested, dropping Nookular Bombs to blow out the flames.
Sweden Drops Bombs to Help Tame Wildfire
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Old 23rd Nov 2019, 04:19
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typerated not to certain where you are headed. The post is about fighting fires and the use of ADF assets in doing so.
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