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Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

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Helicopter Fire-fighting (Merged threads)

Old 22nd Aug 2003, 13:59
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Good point,

But when a Massive Bush fire breaks out the states governer just wants to put the fire out as quickly as possible, to avoid any political fallout, so they hire as many FireHawks from different states to quell it ASAP.
I know some Firehawks that travel halfway across the U.S each week to differnet fires, during the season, I don't think a company could justify haveing 20 pilots off season.

Maybe I am wrong and far from an expert.
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Old 23rd Aug 2003, 18:37
  #42 (permalink)  
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Thumbs up

good question - youre not from NSW in Oz are you??
In NSW, they though for many years that 10 X 206s were the answer despite the rest of the world operating larger machines, and now they have a completely opposite view - only big machines!

IMHO, the truth is somewhere in between - different machines offer different capabilities. Although 9 AS350s seem like a good idea, they will be unable to put anywhere near the same amount of water on a fire as one AirCrane, nor will they be able to do it for less cents per litre in operating costs. But probably the most important reason is that the larger volume of water when dropped in one hit has a vastly greater effect than the same amount of water dropped in 9 seperate drops. This is entirely due to the turbulance and heat of the fire dissapating smaller drops, and only allowing larger volumes to penetrate into the fire front. In fact in larger fires, an AS350 drop may be entirely useless (apart from the revenue it is earning! )

BUT - have a minor unserviceability with your one Crane, and you have lost all capability, where as one 350 down means 8 more to deliver water. This is why I said that the truth is "somewhere in between". Having both on hand is the answer.

There are some other aspects of employing a variety of machines that I posted in another thread in response to news that NSW were going to get rid of buckets under smaller machines (unlike the rest of the world - again!). Read this if you are intrested:

Page 2 has the info

Last edited by helmet fire; 23rd Aug 2003 at 18:47.
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Old 23rd Aug 2003, 19:02
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Let me rephrase your question, Jcooper, in a way that might explain the answer:

Why would a person put a fire out with one pilot when he could employ 9?

The science of Operations analysis helps determine the best ways to answer such operational questions as How Big? How Many? What capabilities?
In this case, the critical mass of water is one requirement, and the fire determines that. Dousing enough area to stop the fire from jumping the wet spot is a real issue.

Besides that, the cost of the system goes down with size, which is usually based on the gross weight of the aircraft, and the cost of crewing it, which is a per-person cost.
After purchase price, the people needed to run the system are the biggest expense. IN fact, the two are about equal when we divide the price out over the life of the vehicle. That's why supertankers were invented, why modern airliners have 300 to 700 seats, and why double and triple trucks are making their appearance. Fewer crew per passenger or ton of cargo.
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Old 24th Aug 2003, 04:03
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Old 25th Aug 2003, 02:26
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The Florida Division of Forestrys reasons for acquiring one seem to support NickLappos who said, among other reasons, that:


the critical mass of water is one requirement, and the fire determines that. Dousing enough area to stop the fire from jumping the wet spot is a real issue.

The article mentions the reasons include the ability to drop large quantities of water in specific areas.

See: http://www.pensacolanewsjournal.com/...al/ST009.shtml
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Old 25th Aug 2003, 15:11
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Heliport, where did you get that photo, and when??? That's the very machine that I'm on right now!!!
Nice pic.
Helmet fire, good answer. Everyone at Superior, Erickson, and other large medium/heavy operators value the use of light and medium helicopters. No one type can efficiently handle a fire on their own, if all can work together, the fire can be controlled quicker, and at less cost.
Volume of water is important in a drop on a large fire, as any misting in the drop will evaporate before it reaches the ground.
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 11:14
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You guys should drop enormous water ballons inorder to avoid misting from evaporating
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Old 26th Aug 2003, 20:04
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Actually the misting due to evaporation is usefull .... obviously if evaporation has occured then the local atmosphere has been cooled ..... which is part of trying to tame the fire !!! ... if your working in conjunction with ground crews they are particulaly happy if you can occassionally COOL them down ...notwithstanding that water droplets in the vicinity also reduce smoke/particulates in the atmosphere ....they like that too!

There lots to this firefighting ...not all of it obvious!

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Old 29th Aug 2003, 08:57
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Designed to fight fires in high rise buidlings, the Water Cannon delivers a horizontal stream of water or foam mix up to 160 feet at a rate of 300 gallons per minute). With a full tank, the cannon system is capable of maintaining the 300 gpm flow for up to eight minutes.

Last edited by Heliport; 29th Aug 2003 at 16:08.
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Old 3rd Nov 2003, 10:34
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How effective are helicopters at fighting fires?

Just killing time on a night job and started wondering how effective helicopters are in a firefighting role.

I've read the threads about firefighting in Oz, Canada, the US and so on but I haven't done or seen it myself.
And do small helis have any useful role?
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Old 3rd Nov 2003, 17:52
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Good questions.
I haven't done any firefighting and would be interested in reading comments by people who have. I'd like to add some more questions.

How is it done?

Are drops made directly on the fires or on surroundign areas to stop the fire spreading, or both?

Are the techniques the same in all countries?
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Old 3rd Nov 2003, 17:54
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Depends on many factors - the wind speed, terrain, grass or pine forest and so on. Light helos can vary between hugely effective to a p1ss in the bucket. In the early days, they were the only option, but now there are lots of specialist big-lifters, so a 206 type is relegated to mopping up the smoking logs and to carrying the decision-makers and the flir cameras and the plotters.

Everybody can get a jersey, but the biggest crumbs on the table go to the biggest eaters.
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Old 3rd Nov 2003, 23:00
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As posted above it depends on a lot of things. If its small and remote, sometimes helicopters are the the only way. As to the big fires, many things are not effective untill things such as weather and allocation of equipment are met to start controlling the fire properly.
As with the recent fires Im sure for a time most of the helicopters were just trying to save what they could and did a great job. The thing was way out of anyones control. Mother nature does that at times.
So if its your house in the path, Im sure you would be greatful for a bucket load of water......
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Old 4th Nov 2003, 22:58
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A lot depends on whether the pilots are on overtime.

I have found you need to get down and dirty and just soak everything - this is obviously not recommended when it's really blazing, but if you're doing jumpspots and chicoes, it's very effective (one tip - when hover-dropping in the Astar, get the target centrally in the last inch of the floor window - 100% every time - the higher oyu get the more you need to come forward)

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Old 5th Nov 2003, 07:14
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helicopter fire fighting

I have been firefighting with a helicopter in the US for 15 years. Helicopters are very effective fire fighting tools. The larger Type 1 helicopters can put up to 2,000 US Gal. of water at a time on a fire. A medium , or Type 2 helicopter will drop up to 400 gallons at a time. Besides water dropping, the helicopter can move firefighters, and do external load work.
In many places in the US, the helicopter is the only way to move people and equipment efficiently. They are expensive to operate, but the efficiency makes the cost bearable.
The pilots who do this work are very well trained and experienced. The flying is done at high altitudes, in high temperatures, in low visibility, with very small power margins. Only the best pilots can operate in this high stress environment for loong periods of time.
In my opinion, the pilots who do this work are some of most professional and talented pilots I have ever seen.
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Old 5th Nov 2003, 07:42
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I would have to say that the B206 JR does okay when it comes to mopping up.BUT for fighting a blazing fire I quote AC-they are as afective as "a p1ss in the bucket".The smallest machine for the nitty gritty stuff should be a B206L3 atleast.

But Then Again-That's just my opinion
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Old 5th Nov 2003, 08:53
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Used to be involved in this in NZ a few years ago at a provincial airport surrounded by a large amount of bush.
Baisc equipemnt consists of an underslung water carrier called a "monsoon bucket". The buckets has a series of holes in the side, each of which can be closed by a rubber seal. The number of holes closed will determine the capacity/weight of the bucket according to the underslung capability of the helicopter. The water is released by a cable attached to a valve at the bottom of the bucket.
Works well on localised fires, but probably of limited use against fires with a wide front...
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Old 6th Nov 2003, 00:37
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Wessex proved very useful in mopping up after the Big Chief's BBQ got out of control in Akronelli
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Old 6th Nov 2003, 02:03
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Have spent several years doing fire-fighting in South Africa, firstly with the spotter(bird-dog) a/c and then the fixed wing bombers (Thrush and Dromader) and for the last three years with a Bell 407 with an 800 litre Bambi bucket.
As long as there is a good (accessible) supply of water close by then even the small helos are very effective in the right hands. Recently did a fire where we managed 96 loads in an afternoon. Multiply that by 800 litres and it works out to around 75 tonnes of water and retardant. At the fire in question the airstrip was only 3nm away and the helo averaged 8 drops to 1 compared to the fixed wing bombers. The maths is easy.
If the water is more than 5 minutes away then the effectiveness drops and becomes questionable re. the small helos.
Wx Conditions, as well as terrain also play a large part; on a "Red" day, only the Mil8 has any real impact on fire behaviour.
Bert you were there when we came to help out with the Entabeni fire this year. I'm sure you would agree that helos were the only viable option that day. Unfortunately I got recalled back to NLP and missed the party that night, was hoping to have a few cold ones with you...

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Old 6th Nov 2003, 04:11
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Heli firefighting websites?

Does anyone know of any helicopter fire fighting websites?
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