Rappel training academy for firefighters

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Rappel training in Salmon ID

About 80 rookies are going through the National Rappel Academy in Salmon, Idaho this week.

Below is an excerpt from an article at LocalNews8:

The National Rappel Academy in Salmon is one of a kind. For the fourth consecutive year veteran rappellers, who trained two weeks ago, are teaching nearly 80 rookies for a week in preparation of a busy summer season.

The rookies go through ground training before practicing from a tower that simulates a helicopter. A spotter, check spotter and rappeller all practice from the top of the deck.

Don Campbell, a specialist at the National Rappel Academy, has actual experience in every position. He said the future heli-rappellers will focus on the initial attack on wildfires.

Carrie Bond, a rookie from Iowa, said her week of training has been busy but exciting.

“It’s intimidating to look at the towers and look at the helicopters go up, but the crew here has been awesome,” said Bond. “I couldn’t ask for a better crew.”

Colorado seeks bids for helicopters

A K-MAX helicopter working the Myrtle Fire
A K-MAX helicopter working the Myrtle Fire in South Dakota, July 19, 2012. Photo by Bill Gabbert for Fire Aviation.

The State of Colorado has taken another affirmative step toward acquiring a fire aviation fleet. They have advertised for bids to provide up to three helicopters. There are two announcements, one for a Type 2 helicopter, and another for “up to two” Type 3 helicopters.

The bid due date is June 13, and the state expects the one-year contract to begin on July 1, 2014.

Their plan was to contract for three or four helicopters in 2014 and up to four large air tankers in 2015 and beyond.
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Bean

Night flying fire suppression drill scheduled in California

The Kern County Fire Department in Bakersfield, California will be hosting a night flying and night vision goggles (NVG) fire suppression drill on June 5. The Department recently distributed the following information. It is interesting in that it will involve not only night flying helicopters, but also crews, engines, and dozers.

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“On June 5, 2014 the Kern County Fire Department will be hosting the Southern California Interagency NVG Fire Suppression Drill in the Greater Tehachapi area. Kern County Fire Department, Orange County Fire Authority, Los Angeles City Fire Department, Los Angeles County Fire Department, Ventura County Fire/Sheriff, and the US Forest Service will participate in the drill with their aircraft.

The drill will begin at 2:00 PM with aircraft arriving at the East Ramp of Tehachapi Municipal Airport, the Drill Helibase. The airport east ramp will be closed to other aircraft and access will be limited to drill participants, Fire Service observers, and support staff only.

The Drill In-briefing will commence at 3:00 PM, following the brief aircraft will conduct area familiarization flights during daylight and return to the Helibase where dinner will be provided at 18:00. NVG Fire suppression operations will commence at approximately 8:45 PM, concluding at approximately 1:00 AM on June 6th. Fire suppression apparatus, including crews, engines, and dozers will be stationed at the burn site on Cummings Ranch.

Helicopters will depart the Helibase on order from the HLCO, proceed to the Tank-Fill site near Brite Lake, take on water and commence water-drop operations by flying circuits from the Tank-Fill site to the fire site on Cummings Ranch. Aircraft will complete as many evolutions as required for each pilot to demonstrate proficiency in night water drop operations. Additionally, Fire Crews will have the opportunity to work with night water-dropping helicopters to practice, train, and develop night water-drop coordination procedures (Identification, Communication, Feedback, etc.).

Aerial Supervision will be provided by the USFS Night Air Attack airplane and Kern County Fire NVG HLCO.”

 

Forest Service publishes info on aerial firefighting resources

USFS air tanker graphic
A portion of a US Forest Service graphic.

We have not seen the U.S. Forest Service bragging about their aerial firefighting resources much since the fleet was eviscerated after 2002 to about eight last year. But since they added five jet-powered air tankers to the fleet in the last week, they felt confident to produce a graphic promoting the aircraft. Above is a portion of the graphic; you can see the entire document at the USFS website.

 

Thanks and a hat tip go out to Leo.

Photos from the Marines during their fire fight

When Marines are involved in a fire fight, it usually means bullets, not flames, are in the air. There have been at least 22 military aircraft available for fighting the wildfires in southern California over the last five days, from Camp Pendleton and the Marine Corps Air Station at Miramar. The latter has an official Twitter account where we found these photos:

Continue reading “Photos from the Marines during their fire fight”

National Guard helicopter training in South Dakota

National Guard helicopter wildfire training

 

Today the South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit conducted their annual fire certification at Angostura Lake and the Hot Springs Airport. It was coordinated by the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division so that the National Guard Black Hawk helicopters can assist in suppressing wildland fires.

Crews were tested on fire aviation procedures which included dipping buckets attached to helicopters at a water source and accurately dropping the water on a target.

The helicopters used were Blackhawks and a Lakota. It was quite windy during the exercise, increasing the level of difficulty for the crews.

All of the photos were taken by Bill Gabbert.
National Guard helicopter wildfire training

National Guard helicopter wildfire training

National Guard helicopter wildfire training

Continue reading “National Guard helicopter training in South Dakota”

U.S. Navy helicopters assist with the fires in southern California

MH-60S Seahawk
An MH-60S Seahawk with Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 lifts off from Camp Pendleton May 15 to assist the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. (U.S. Navy/MC1 Joan E. Jennings)

A total of 19 military helicopters are providing fire suppression support to firefighters in southern California, including eight Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters, seven CH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters and four UH-1Y Huey helicopters.

A report from the military:

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“SAN DIEGO – Six flight crews from the “Merlins” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 3 provided firefighting support to California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) in response to wildfires throughout San Diego County May 15.

At the request of CAL FIRE, the six specially-equipped MH-60S Seahawks are supporting firefighting efforts in the vicinity of Camp Pendleton, Calif. by conducting aerial water drops.

“The critical part of our role is supporting CAL FIRE to help save lives, prevent human suffering and mitigate great property damage,” said Lt. Cmdr. Todd Stansfield, Third Fleet’s Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA) lead. “We have Navy personnel and their families that live and work in the areas of San Diego threatened by the fires. Our efforts support both our people and the communities we live in.”

In August 2011, U.S. Third Fleet, Naval Air Forces Pacific and Navy Region Southwest entered into a memorandum of understanding with CALFIRE. Under the agreement, naval units provide helicopters when notified by CALFIRE of weather conditions favorable to wildfires.

Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Wing Pacific prepares ready, trained and certified resources to combat wildfires and crews conduct semi-annual training with CAL FIRE to ensure an immediate response capability in support of local authorities for emergency events. The assigned crews are capable of being airborne within four hours of receiving a request for assistance to combat fires.”