Tim Crippin sent us these photos of a new S-64 Erickson Air-Crane that is being tested before it is delivered to the Korea Forest Service.
“Heard it is supposed to be delivered to them in the next week,” Tim said. “It’s temporary N- number registration is N915AC. It’s been doing plenty of flight testing the past few weeks around Southern Oregon. I heard it is the first Air-Crane to have composite rotor blades.”
Alberta Wildfire published a series of three tweets showing training for helitack personnel. One of the two videos shows four firefighters being transported at the end of a long line below a helicopter.
Click on the tweet below to see two additional tweets on the topic, including two videos.
#DYK? We use a few techniques to get firefighters on the ground quickly when a wildfire is detected. Firefighters carried by a line underneath a helicopter is called Human External Cargo (HEC). pic.twitter.com/zAGt3zfKgH
Helicopter Association International (HAI) announced November 8 that the Los Angeles County (California) Fire Department Air Operations Sikorsky S-70 Firehawk helicopter teams are the 2020 recipient of the Salute to Excellence Humanitarian Service Award. The award honors the person or persons who best demonstrate the value of helicopters to the communities in which they operate by providing aid to those in need. The award will be presented January 29 at HAI’s Salute to Excellence Awards luncheon at HAI HELI-EXPO 2020 in Anaheim, California.
As wildfires once again burn throughout Southern California in 2019, this award recognizes the efforts made by the flight and ground crews of the four S-70 Firehawk helicopters while battling the 2018 Woolsey Fire, the largest wildfire on record in Los Angeles County. The fire destroyed nearly 97,000 acres, with 1,643 homes lost and more than 295,000 people evacuated at its peak.
The Woolsey Fire began midafternoon on Nov. 8, 2018, just outside of Simi Valley near the borders of Ventura County, Los Angeles County, and the City of Los Angeles. The four S-70s joined multiple other aircraft and ground crews battling the conflagration over the next four days. While the flight and ground crews rotated as necessary, the helicopters themselves were shut down only for refueling and inspection. This resulted in the four LACFDAO helicopters totaling 119.4 flight hours in the first three days—equivalent to almost an entire month’s worth of flying and maintenance in one week—completing more than 350 water drops amid winds ranging from 40 to 70 knots.
Operating on the leeward side of the flames due to high winds, LACOFD helicopters and crews were often the only aircraft working the lines. The winds kept the smoke low across the terrain and homes, forcing the crews to fly and refuel within the smoke as they realized that the only way to attack the fire was to become engulfed in it. Flying conditions quickly became almost nightlike because of the reduced visibility.
In addition to the efforts of the flight crews, the maintenance and support crews worked tirelessly on the ground. Operating in 24-hour shifts, the maintainers kept the aircraft available for every launch, ensuring they were always safe and ready to go. A majority of the 20 people on the maintenance team volunteered into the night and weekend to ensure that routine maintenance was performed efficiently and safely.
The reductions will affect 63 firefighters who may be moved to other units. One air tanker group will also be cut.
5:42 p.m. MST November 7, 2019
The Canadian province of Alberta is eliminating their helicopter rappel program. Due to budget woes throughout the province the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry is reducing its expenses by 9 percent, which translates to $23 million less funding for Alberta Wildfire this year.
Rappelers respond to wildfires in helicopters and if there is no suitable landing zone upon arrival, descend to the ground on a rope while the helicopter hovers. The concept is to arrive at a fire very soon after its reported and aggressively attack the fire while small to keep it from becoming large and endangering communities and private property.
Below are excerpts from an article at Globalnews:
The Wildland Firefighter Rappel Program — also known as the RAP program — has been in place for 36 years and employs 63 personnel each wildfire season.
According to [Minister Devin] Dreeshen, RAP firefighters spend only two per cent of the time rappelling from helicopters, and spend the rest of the time fighting wildfires on the ground — that played into the decision made in the budget.
“We found it’s better to utilize their ground work and that’s why we made the decision to have them on the ground fighting alongside the hundreds of other wildfire personnel that we have,” Dreeshen said.
According to the government, firefighters from the RAP program will be redeployed to different crews in Alberta Wildfire if they choose to return for the next wildfire season.
In 2016 Alberta had 64 four-person Helitack Crews, 2 eight-person Helitack Crews, 9 seven-person Rappel Crews, 8 twenty-person Unit Crews, and 35 eight-person Firetack Crews.
As part of the budget reduction between 15 and 30 of the province’s 127 wildfire lookout towers will no longer be staffed.
The province is also cutting their air tanker program, reducing the fleet from eight to seven air tanker groups. In 2014 there were nine air tanker groups, each consisting of an air tanker and an Air Attack Officer in a lead plane (or “Bird Dog”).
Alberta has never employed smokejumpers, or Parattack as they are called in British Columbia where they are based at Fort St. John and Mackenzie. The BC jumpers are occasionally used on fires in Alberta and Yukon.
A retractable external water tank for a Blackhawk:
We are very proud to introduce our next advancement for helicopter fire fighting with Recoil Suppression Systems! The 3,785 litre water tank, with dual retraction redundancy, will easily put out any raging fire in its path! 🔥🔥🔥 pic.twitter.com/iBQN1fsrqq
Congrats to US company @EricksonInc for their work assisting @pyrosvestiki Hellenic Fire Brigade with air crane firefighting services and for recently signing a contract for more years of support – another great US-Greece public-private partnership benefiting both our countries. pic.twitter.com/7MGbiOlFjg
Always on the search for different angles.. We only had two drops, the first drop we had the aircraft in a loose echelon formation and the second was this one. We were in a high hover as the H215 crew flew towards us, ensuring safe vertical sep, they called the drop perfectly! pic.twitter.com/g5YZNDJ1NJ
The fire burned approximately 11 acres near Redlands, California
11:00 a.m. PDT October 21, 2019
Firefighters in southern California stopped the spread of the Beaumont Fire after it burned about 11 acres near Redlands and Loma Linda Monday morning (see map). It was reported between 8 and 9 a.m. at 26000 Beaumont Road at San Timoteo Canyon and was aggressively attacked from the ground and the air.
Conveniently, it was within range of the San Timoteo and Crestline cameras, part of the Alert Wildfire network of fire cameras. I grabbed some of the still images as they each appeared for about 20 seconds before being refreshed. Unfortunately the San Timoteo camera lens was not in pristine condition.
This infrared video shows the effects of helicopters dropping water on a fire at Backwater in New South Wales, Australia. In the video colder objects, such as water, show up black or darker than warmer objects.
Direct hit! Take a look at the incredible work of these pilots tackling a spot fire on the bush fire at Backwater. These pilots have been working with ground crews to slow the spread of the fire and save homes. #nswrfs#nswfirespic.twitter.com/zskWUY89yC