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Fire Fighting At Night


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Hmmm!!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

SAN DIEGO – Two of the region's biggest firefighting agencies signed a historic agreement Monday lifting the ban that kept the city's helicopters from dropping water at night over state owned lands.

 

 

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, now known as Cal Fire, is the agency responsible for responding to most major wildfires.

 

Citing safety issues, it has long banned water dropping helicopters from flying at night because of the inherent dangers pilots face when navigating in remote and often times unfamiliar areas. More than one million acres of land, mostly in the county's backcountry, are controlled by the state.

 

But the agency's approach to fighting fires was heavily criticized after the 2003 and 2007 wildfires that destroyed thousands of homes and left several people dead.

 

When public officials identified the inability to fly at night as one of the primary problems facing the agency, the county Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a recommendation aimed at changing the policy.

 

 

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County Supervisors Pam Slater-Price likened the ban on night flying to having “one hand tied behind our backs.”

 

With Santa Ana conditions expected to envelope the region on Wednesday, the ability to fight fires at night from the air will greatly add to the region's firefighting arsenal and could not have come at a better time, fire officials said.

 

San Diego Fire-Rescue Chief Tracy Jarman and Cal Fire Unit Chief Howard Windsor signed the arrangement on Monday. They were joined by Mayor Jerry Sanders, who said the new policy will be a tremendous benefit for firefighting efforts throughout the region.

 

The mayor called the agreement “monumental” and said it will greatly reduce the likelihood that wildfires that start in the back country will reach homes and businesses in the city.

 

“Fire knows no boundaries,” he said.

 

Both Jarman and Windsor said the agreement is a significant change in cooperation between the agencies.

 

“It captures the willingness of everybody in this region to do what's right, to leverage what resources we have to give us the best possible chance to keep the fires small and contained,” Jarman said. “It's a good step for the entire region.”

 

Windsor called the new policy a “huge paradigm shift” and said that he hopes that once the true benefits of nighttime water dropping are evaluated that Cal Fire will make it routine.

 

He said the agency will also look to either retrofit its firefighting aircraft, which are currently not equipped to drop water at night, or buy new aircraft as the budget allows.

 

Other than the city and county of Los Angeles, the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department is the only municipal agency in the country that allow firefighting helicopters to drop water at night.

 

San Diego's Copter 1, and the newly acquired Copter 2, are staffed around the clock and are equipped with state-of-the-art equipment including night-vision goggles used by the U.S. military.

 

They can strategically dump 375 gallons of water in one pass and can fill the water tanks in just 17 seconds while hovering over a water source, said San Diego Deputy Fire Chief Brian Fennessy. The helicopter can also transport 14 firefighters and drop them off in terrain not accessible by fire vehicles.

 

The chiefs said fire conditions this year are very similar to 2003 and 2007 when wildfires ravaged the region. No rain since January has left the vegetation tinder-dry.

 

Jarman said firefighters are monitoring the weather and expect the coming hot dry Santa Ana conditions to last about a day and a half.

 

“We'll be ready,” she said.

 

 

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:blink: Whoa there now fellas. Lets not go gettin all crazy and start making decisions that follow some sort of common sense. I mean Jeezus, next thing you know they will want us to start actually puttin these fires out. :blink:

 

All sarcasm aside,

It's about frickin time. How many times have we all been standing around Heli-base with our fingers up our noses all morning on a large fire, when we could actually be dropping water while the fire is laying low, only to wait until mid/late afternoon when the Temp and RH cross over and the Fire behavior becomes extreme. The Mother Lovin Overhead team finally launches the air show only to find that its near impossible to hold the fire because by now the flames are standing up 100' over the canopy and spotting 100 yds ahead.

 

Kudos to San Diego Fire Dept for giving they're crew the tools and training to actually fight these fires 24/7. They have arguably the best flight crew in North America, the best equipment and obviously the best management team supporting the whole operation. They appear to be setting the standard the rest us in the fire fighting world can only aspire too.

 

Jiggler

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How many times have we all been standing around Heli-base with our fingers up our noses all morning on a large fire, when we could actually be dropping water while the fire is laying low, only to wait until mid/late afternoon when the Temp and RH cross over and the Fire behavior becomes extreme.

 

This has nothing to do with flying at night it seems to me.

 

 

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I know the San Diego guys and you are correct in your statement about the quality of the crews. Top end for sure, however I also know some of the management folks and they are maybe a little iffy. Also those guys are in a horrible PR situation as they are continually trying to find ways of raising money for the program. I would expect this is another way of trying to justify it. Lots of infighting on the management side as they have to deal with all the different agencies down there (San Diego Fire, San Diego Sheriff, USFS, DOI, BLM, CDF)

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:blink: Whoa there now fellas. Lets not go gettin all crazy and start making decisions that follow some sort of common sense. I mean Jeezus, next thing you know they will want us to start actually puttin these fires out. :blink:

 

All sarcasm aside,

It's about frickin time. How many times have we all been standing around Heli-base with our fingers up our noses all morning on a large fire, when we could actually be dropping water while the fire is laying low, only to wait until mid/late afternoon when the Temp and RH cross over and the Fire behavior becomes extreme. The Mother Lovin Overhead team finally launches the air show only to find that its near impossible to hold the fire because by now the flames are standing up 100' over the canopy and spotting 100 yds ahead.

 

Kudos to San Diego Fire Dept for giving they're crew the tools and training to actually fight these fires 24/7. They have arguably the best flight crew in North America, the best equipment and obviously the best management team supporting the whole operation. They appear to be setting the standard the rest us in the fire fighting world can only aspire too.

 

Jiggler

 

 

 

I totally agree with the concept, with the proper equipment. Anybody who has worked fires knows that they go into a lower state of burning at night, the heat is lower and doesn't burn the chemical

like it does in the daytime temperatures.

 

I believe you are talking IFR equipped heavy machines at the least. I know I wouldn't touch it unless I was sitting in a CH-43 equipped with an external tank for dropping chemical, no bucket as that is what will kill you.

 

This could also work in Canada, drop water during the day another crew drop chemical at night.

 

If you think it is not possible, you are wrong.

 

If most fire districts were serious about putting out fires, all they have to do is use their heads and get the equipment, it's available.

 

I told the OMNR in the early seventies that the only way to get a proper heli-tac crew in was with B204/B205. It was awhile before it was implemented.

 

Incidentally, my first fire I was flying a B47G2 (big bird)

 

Cheers, Don

 

 

 

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