Jump to content

Fire Fighting At Night

Recommended Posts

I heard the names of a few of the guys driving these ships for San Diego City.

Some of them used to fly in Canada and would be well known to many of you.

They are first rate pilots, as is their engineering team.


They have night vision goggles, tank ships with hydrant-fill capability, and more training and recurrency than we would dream of.

If there is a right way to do this....they are doing it.


It has nothing to do with pilot hours etc. They are all on salary, 24 hour schedules etc.


I also heard that the politics and pressure to perform from the public and media in LA and SD are huge. Thankfully these guys are pros and know when to say NO, and apparently the Fire Department backs them fully.


The fires we see on TV in San Diego don't lay down at night. The Santa Ana winds are very hot and amazingly strong. We do NOT have anything like it in Canada........(no, a Chinook is a mere zephyr in comparison).


Because of the 24 hour burning and intense public pressure, these guys have followed LA City and County's lead and equipped themselves to work at night.

It doesn't mean they must.....but if conditions permit it, they can.


Sounds exciting.

Stay safe down there guys.....Santa Ana season is coming!!


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why not? we have in this country pulled logs at night. One of the great things about this industry is the way it innovates to meet demands. From fitting Canso bomb racks to a 47D for hauling water, aerial iginition (come on how's that safe...), bird towing in the rocks, torpedo recovery, to well dropping water at night.

I suppose the effort should be in how we innovate to keep the practice within the realm of our perceived levels of "What's Safe" while still remaining effective.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Kudo's to this organization for becoming leading edge in this proposal. I think it is a great step forward from the 'dark ages' of flying helicopters!


I am sure they will come across issues that will have to be sorted out, but all in all, a positive step forward.

Link to comment
Share on other sites


The reason for this decision appears to not be based on ability, but on NEED! And it seems to be decided by people who know nothing about helicopter operations in the field and all of the millions of variables and traps that await a helicopter in low level operations even in daylight.

. This smells suspiciously like the decision to put the Air Mail in the US into the hands of the Army Air Corp in the '20's, and that decision wrecked a lot of aircraft and killed a lot of pilots.


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.




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.


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.


  • Create New...