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How Close Is Too Close?

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It all started with making staging safer. Get the torch 100' out in front of you where the mixers do not have there heads and paddles under the rotor system doing there thing. Because we have all been there where we start with 3 or 4 barrels then only end up using one! No never happens...


No one is getting blasted and everyone stays happy!


Not to mention when they start tinkering with the pump and the ignitor and we get a little accidental "test"...never happens...


This then puts my fuel supply 100' from the surefire, cigarette smokers and supply trucks, all full of loose garbage! They just throw a thumbs up across the site and your good to go! You can now get out and have a piss without getting someones' feet wet!


Off to the block and yes a few more advantages. You get a great view of whats going on! The widow makers are no longer a factor - some torches are amazing resilient!!! You can come off the top of the crowns then right down low into the buck brush if need be, still keeping a cool distance from the flame front.

And as reliable as the old torches were - now I don't care if they leak, catch fire etc. You will not burn the bellie panels and the line might let you get into that little pond or creek to cool things off. Not to mention if you are unlucky enough to snag the sucker, a few more valuable seconds to punch it off. Yuck...


But hey, what do I know. This is what works for me. :blink:


If you geta chance 407 try it once and let me know what you think!


now if i could convince the guides and groups to harness up to a carousel... :lol:

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You are too close when:


You look over at the fire boss and he has big crocodile tears streaming down his cheeks!! :D


I did some flying on the crown fire experiments a few years ago. Russians, Americans, Canadians, everybody was there. I was in the IR jet box over the fire at 1500 AGL, and one of the companies 204's was fitted with a bunch of vacuum sensors provided by NASA.


Long story short is that the 204 was tasked with flying as close as possible to the fire in order to get the best readings while the fire was crowning. I think they were shooting for 60 mph. Other than the extremely violent turbulence, the aircraft suffered no significant damage. If memory serves me correct, the temperature readings on the ground were on the order of 2200 degrees F. :blink:


There is a great video out there documenting the whole thing. The funny thing(well, not really) was watching the footage from inside the fire as it raced through the test area. Inside amongst all the sensors, was some survival gear the CFS was testing for the protection of fire fighters. Everything was reduced to crispy critters. So much for that survival blanket. :down:


Would much rather be in the air rassling fires than on the ground!!


Bottoms up. :up:

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VR, thanks for the idea about longlining the torch. Don't know why it never camde up over here. I'm sure we'll give it a whirl, and betting it'll become the norm - for all the good reasons you give. :up:


As to how close is too close, I have to admit I've gotten into the real heat on more than one occasion, but only with a medium. There's clearly nothing to gain with a light.


I can remember trying to hold the line from crossing a creek with a 204 one day while everyone else was at lunch (and before the longline was in common use) and the only way I could get an effective amount of water through to the head was to 'toss' it as I banked tightly to avoid flying right into the column. I can remember that, despite the doors being off, I got a lot of heat most of the time but there were no effects on performance, or on the airframe. I did succeed in holding it on the good side of the creek, but they lost it later that afternoon. Maybe it was just that I was still 'way too young and keen. :rolleyes:


As the man says, "Take your time, son. The fire will still be there tomorrow." B)

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Yea give her a whirl. You can then compare note with 407.


You will notice the initial lack of downwash effect (no pun intended) on the burn. But is really a non event as we usually rip her up when we are at "cross over" or beyond. Hoover if ya half too kinda thing!


Looking forward to the feedback!

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  • 2 weeks later...

In 97 we did a big perscribed burn with a torch. It was a massive cutblock overrun with some kind of weed they wanted to kill off. It took 5 hours of continous torching the get the whole thing lit up. Started with a hotspot in the middle and then ever increasing lines expanding out from the center.....had the perfect convective colum up through the middle, fire laying horizontal across the ground from the full 360 degrees sucking into the center. It was pretty amazing!


Anyway....torch was on a longline and it worked out real well. It just made sense to have it on a line for many of the reasons in the previous posts. We had heli fuel on board to last a few hours, but were going through a lot of torch fuel....so it made the "Pit stop" for more gel much faster. Didnt even land...we were in and out of staging in about 45 seconds, which was crucial for the torch team in the initial stages so they can steer the fire by adding more heat on the upwind side etc....


When we did land the machine is well clear of the ground crew, and away from the mix site. Far enough away from those accidental little spills and fires that seem to flash up when they are testing the torch or making adjustments...Also enables you to keep your heli fuel and torch fuel seperate, and of course less people working under the spinning blades.


It also enabled us to light up some areas that needed a bit more heat, but would have been a bit too hot to get to with the torch on the belly, along the edge of the cutblock for example.


Was the first time the torch team had used it on a line, and they loved it....


Another two cents worth for ya!

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