Blackhawk helitack crew wins Lead by Example Award

BLM's Boise Helitack Crew
BLM’s Boise Helitack Crew received one of the 2018 Lead by Example Awards. Screenshot from BLM video.

The Bureau of Land Management’s Boise Helitack crew has been named one of the 2018 winners of the Paul Gleason “Lead By Example” award.

The Boise Helitack crew was recognized for its innovation and leadership in introducing the use of the Sikorsky UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter into the initial attack environment of wildland fire suppression. The Boise crew’s use of a Blackhawk helicopter for crew transport and deployment represents the first time a wildland fire agency has configured and tested a Blackhawk for this purpose.

“Your crew’s vision and constant motivation to see the program come into its full potential in spite of delays and challenges is the epitome of resilience,” said John Wood, who co-chairs the leadership committee for the National Wildfire Coordinating Group—the entity that bestows the Paul Gleason “Lead by Example” award.

During the 2017 and 2018 fire seasons, the Boise Helitack crew voluntarily took on the assignment of working through the rigorous regulatory, configuration and testing requirements necessary to certify the Blackhawk before it could be used in the interagency wildland fire suppression arena. The crew carefully developed the methods and standard procedures necessary to adapt the large helicopter to the crew’s initial attack mission.

A “helitack crew” is a group of highly trained wildland firefighters who fly by helicopter into remote and inaccessible areas on wildland fires. Once the crew is delivered to the fire, they quickly assess the fire and begin suppressing it.

The “Lead By Example” award is named for Paul Gleason, a long-time fireline supervisor and fire manager who developed a foundational philosophy of fireline safety. Mr. Gleason’s Lookout, Communication, Escape route and Safety zone checklist is now standard across the United States and other parts of the world.

The award was also presented to three other individuals for 2018:  Kim Lightley, Peter Barry,  and Kim Kelly.

Winners of the award prior to 2018.

From Wildland Fire Leadership

4 thoughts on “Blackhawk helitack crew wins Lead by Example Award”

  1. I was wondering how Helipad construction works with a wheeled machine on uneven terrain…a log deck on each I/A ? Also I understand the rotor width is the same as a Bell 205/212 is that the case? Third is it a 800 US gallon bucket? Lastly what is the usual crewloadout per each I/A sortie is it 10?Can someone enlighten me please.Thanks

    1. Mike,

      Here are some answers from what I know:

      1) Helipad/Helispots: The UH-60 has a braking system for the wheels, so they are locked upon landing in terrain. And having only 3 points of contact instead of skids means there are more possibilities for helispots in uneven terrain, depending on tree cover.
      2) The IA bucket is a 660 gal with a Fast-Fill snorkel for shallow water sources in the desert. There is a larger bucket that can be used on long-term incidents after the initial fuel cycle.
      3) The IA personnel load is 12.

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