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Fire-fighting EC120 in Ireland.

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Fire-fighting EC120 in Ireland.

Old 30th May 2008, 18:19
  #1 (permalink)  
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Fire-fighting EC120 in Ireland.

A forest and brush fire has been extinguished in County Mayo in the west of Ireland after burning for the last four days. Working with the fire crews was an EC120 equiped with a 'Bambi' bucket. I couldn't see the registration from the TV reports but it looks suspiciously like EI-MIK of Executive Helicopter Maintenance Ltd. Both Coillte (the Irish Forestry Service) and the Mayo Fire Brigade have heaped praise on the pilot for putting in a few long days of flying and assisting greatly in bringing the fire under control. Well done to the pilot.

I wouldn't have thought the EC120 would be anyone's choice for this type of work but I guess it's bad press for being under-powered isn't quite accurate.

500 Fan
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Old 30th May 2008, 18:36
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It was EI-MIK from Executive Helicopters in Galway. Flown by Chris Shiel. The EC120 is an excellent choice for fire fighting.
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Old 30th May 2008, 20:47
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Yes we managed to extinguish the fire by 20:00 last night, be it two and a
half days after we got to it. Between us we flew 27 and half hours, covered 800 acres of forestry and the 120 performed quite well. We had the easy job, its the guys on the ground that should get all the praise..... Glad its all over now though..... need some

Have some good pics and will post over the next couple of days.........

Last edited by CVR; 30th May 2008 at 21:02.
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Old 30th May 2008, 22:43
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Ec 120 with a Bambi Bucket

Cant wait to see the pics of the Ec120 with the Bambi Bucket slung under it.
Its the first time ive heard of it.
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Old 31st May 2008, 00:31
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I'm guessing it is not the best with a bucket as I have never heard of a 120 with a bucket--what size did you use?
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Old 31st May 2008, 01:45
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Amazing what passes for fire fighting in some places!

This birdy delivers two thousand US Gallons per drop....Columbia BV234's carry more than that.

Last edited by SASless; 31st May 2008 at 01:55.
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Old 31st May 2008, 02:47
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SASless..Where was the flames... a well placed bucket of 144 gallons works too.. Idaho, June 2007

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Old 31st May 2008, 04:23
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Congrats on getting on the fire. Never thought I would see the day of heli fire fighting in Ireland. Plus, never would have imagined using an EC 120 for bucketing. I am a little curios though, are there any regs for fighting fires in Ireland and for bucketing? Is this something Executive Helicopters plan to get into in the future? Would be pretty cool! Looking forward to seeing the photos.
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Old 31st May 2008, 05:57
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No! It must have been a garden bucket. The plastic, 10 liter ones, made in China
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Old 31st May 2008, 07:22
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EC120 v's people who know what they are doing.


With the Jet Ranger at min fuel in this footage, what was the EC120's bucket set at? I was told in this set up drill that there pretty much shag all use to the fire fighting other then putting out very small spot fires as can be seen.

I spoke to a mate in the south of Spain, they had water boomers available that could have done the job in five, maybe seven flips including the ferry flight to the site. 27.5 hours seems bit extreme to me.


IMHO, get the professionals in and it could have been done much quicker and cheaper plus shut up Joe Duffy...

Rant over.

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Old 31st May 2008, 08:25
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I work in Alberta, Canada with a company that often does Fire Fighting with Bambi Buckets. We own 3 EC 120's. They work just fine thankyou very much...although my FX 2 does put it to shame LOL.

Seriously, what's the debate all about. 27 hours to put a fire out vs ferry flight from Spain...get real. Hell the 27 hours was probably running time, AND not all bucketing. AND if it was, so what. Hell, how you found a "bambi" in Ireland I'll never know. I know for a fact the boys had fun doing it, and they'll talk about it for the rest of their careers.

By the way a properly outfitted, utility use 120 can lift 1000 lbs with a little under 40 % fuel at 1000/1500 ft or so, around 20 C. Probably a 96 US gal bucket, but if they were going for volume by the hour they could be as low as a 78 gal bucket.

Glad the boy's had some fun. That's my rant

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Old 31st May 2008, 12:43
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Now that's a real bomber
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Old 31st May 2008, 14:10
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Irish Fire-fighting helis.

As well as Executive Helicopters, there are two other operators in Ireland that are capable of aerial fire-fighting, Irish Helicopters Ltd and the Irish Air Corps. Irish Helicopters use the BO-105 and AS350 and have a contract with Coillte for fire-fighting and other work and the Air Corps apparently have purchased a 'Bambi' bucket system for the AW139. I haven't heard of the IAC AW139 being used on any fire yet. Maybe Executive Helicopters have a contract for the west coast of Ireland. The landscape in Galway and Mayo lends itself to regular brush fires each summer.

Forest fires are relatively rare here and are miniscule compared to the fires prevalent in Canada, the U.S.A. or elsewhere so a dedicated fire-fighting helicopter (like the Bell 412 with a Simplex fixed water tank, for example) will probably never feature on the Irish register. We will just have to make do with the smaller helicopters being used in this role here.

It is estimated that this fire in Co. Mayo resulted in damage valued at 1 million so the 27.5 hours flown to help in extinguishing it was money well spent. Perhaps the fire-fighting pilots have the stats to back this up, but would two or three helis working the fire on day 1 have resulted in an even greater saving to the taxpayer?

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Old 31st May 2008, 15:57
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27 hours may or may not be too extreme depending upon the fuel types. I have spent 20 hours flight time supporting a 3 acre fire in the past. It was on a ridge at 8,000 feet, and everything had to be flown in, firefighters, food, water, cubees, blivets etc.

Also to add about helicopter firefighting..A fire needs three things to survive: fuel, heat and oxygen. Helicopters fight fires by taking the heat out of the fire and reducing the temperature of the fuel below the combustible range. With light fuels such as fast-moving grass fires, my L4 with a 144 gallon bucket can often with one bucket load of water, put out from 50 to 100 feet of fire line in light fuels with a fast trail drop (moving forward at 20-40 kts). Likewise, a couple of strategically-placed (vertical) hover drops may cool down a burning snag sufficiently to allow a crew to take a chain saw, drop it and buck it up. Take a larger helicopter like a Bell 205/Huey/212/214 ("Type 2") with a 300-350 gallon bucket and the effect is magnified. Still larger "Type 1" helicopters such as SkyCranes, Vertol 107's and 234's (Chinooks) can lift as much as 1500 gallons or more of water at time. That's a lot of VERY heavy rain if you're on the receiving end.

So, on most fires, helicopters don't actually "put the fire out." But, they support the ground fire-fighters to cool things down to manageable level. After the fire is established, not only do the helicopters do initial attack, but then the helicopters go into a support role, moving fire-fighters here and there, and doing bucket work to cool the fire down and help retard its spread. Also, food, water and supplies are slung in to the fire fighters on a long line (usually 100-150') or, in grasslands, perhaps a short line or belly hook.
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Old 31st May 2008, 16:34
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You use whatever tools you have, and in this case it was an EC-120: Good Job Guys.

There are plenty of initial attack operations in North America that are hit with light ships; what is being suggested here - they wait for something larger and more effective?

The US Forest Serviec has come to the realization (finally) that if they had an effective, highly mobile, Initial Attack capability; they would stop way more fires in the early stages, than by bringing in heavy iron 24 hours later. The current contracting round is in process, but the likelihood is, you will see a large number of S61's with tanks, seats and hoists/rappel capabilities operating in this role from this year forward. The variety of aircraft in this role includes: 206 series; 407's; 350's; 205's; 212's; 214B and ST, and Lama's - plus others, I'm sure.

I have rented out everything including a piston Hiller with a bucket over the years. In an act of desperation the Hiller was rented to one of our major customers after the Government kept commandeering everything they secured. Eventually the Hiller was all that remained, and I happened to have seen this dinky little fibreglass bucket in the back of the hangar the same day and asked what it was. When the call came later in the day, off she went and stayed gone for weeks!

The other observation here that is very important - fires are put out by people on the ground, working extremely hard. Helicopters and Aircraft dropping water are an important part of that process, but they are not the end by themselves.
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Old 31st May 2008, 20:20
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As 500 fan has already said, Forest Fires are relatively rare in Ireland. The Forest fire was extinguished fairly quickly, the hardest part for us was the peat (Bog) land, the fire had been burning for over a day before we got to it and the fire had burned into the ground. Just when you thought the fire was out, it would start up again 100 yards away, so we ended up covering the same ground over and over. When we had the fire out we spent alot of time just dampening down.

We did as Gordy said, Hover drop and fast trail drop, generally from 100ft or so depending on the smoke and flame height. We used 100 gallon Bambi, with very light fuel load and some times had to reduce bucket capacity depending on how much fuel we lifted to remain over head.

Again all credit has to go to the guys on the ground, they were the ones in the thick of it (smoke/flames) for up to five or six hours at a time, all we had to do was flick a switch, but i must say it was intense and i was absolutely wrecked, but i really enjoyed the couple of days and it beats the norm of flying straight lines, Horse tracks and golf courses..........

Fly Safe And Enjoy
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Old 31st May 2008, 20:49
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from what i have heard from a source in the air corps, a bambi bucket has been bought for the 139s, they are in the process of training up the crews.
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Old 1st Jun 2008, 16:35
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Nicely done CVR. Never thought I would see the day. Kinda jealous now. Sounds like some good flying. hurry up with the pics. Will drop into Galway later in the week anyway.
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Old 1st Jun 2008, 18:13
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Glad you posted this over a weekend. Can't wait for all the twin pilots to get back to work Monday and started slamming single engine ops.

Well done. If you'd been in London a year ago you might have saved the Cutty Sark.......
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Old 29th Nov 2008, 16:44
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Here are the photos!

Here are photos from the Flyinginireland forum which has a heli photo thread.

500 Fan.
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