Section 11 Helicopters & Safety
Helicopters are used on almost every fire for a variety of reasons.
Some of these are:
Helicopters have three main danger areas
Some DO's and DON'Ts when working near helicopters:
NOTE: This review course is NOT a formal Helicopter Safety Review
Section 12 Air Tankers
Many fires in British Columbia will “see” air-tanker action. This may occur before you arrive or afterward. The fire retardant being dropped from the tankers has the potential to do serious harm if precautions are not taken by fire fighters (and the pilots).
There are some basic important precautions to take when air-tankers are “working” the fire you are on.
If you are told or become aware that air-tanker action is going to take place on “your” fire;
The “bird dog” plane MAY fly low over the intended drop zone and on the same flight path the tankers will follow. The “bird dog” plane will sound a series of yelping / warbling as he passes overhead as a warning the air-tankers are not far behind.
When all clear, "bird dog" sounds a siren.
NOTE: With today's fast flying air tankers, it is not uncommon for the tanker to arrive ahead of the "bird dog" plane. Therefore it is possible you will not have much advance notice. ... and some of the "water scoopers" can arrive in very rapid succession so - again, be careful and aware of what may be going on around you and in the air.
Immediately - move away at a right angle, from the proximity of the intended drop zone. Do not run. The air-tankers are led to the fire by a smaller aircraft called the “bird-dog”. On board is a pilot and a Forest Officer called an Air Attack Officer. The Air Attack Officer directs the air-tankers and will be in radio communication with the Incident Commander on the ground.
You should be clear of the drop zone.
However, if you are not - do not panic!
Do not take shelter behind snags (green, standing trees can be knocked over) or any object or debris that may bounce up and injure you. In most cases the worst that will happen to you is you will be covered with red fire retardant.
After the initial drop.There are usually more than one air-tanker drops therefore, stay where you are until you hear the all-clear. The all-clear will come from the “bird dog” flying low over the fire again, sounding a loud siren, similar to a police siren.
When the all clear is sounded, carefully get up, check all around you (and up) and move toward the rest of your crew. The fire retardant should be washed off your skin.Be aware that it is very slippery to walk on.
Section 13 Heavy Equipment
Working in the same general area as heavy equipment, (i.e. bulldozers, back-hoes, excavators, feller-bunchers, etc.) require some extra precautions and considerations.
Section 14 WATCH OUT
Workers must always keep in mind the;
W-A-T-C-H - O-U-T slogan for fire line safety.
W - weather dominates fire behaviour
A - action is based on what the fire is doing
T - try out at least two escape routes
C- communications, keep them clear and simple
H - hazards such as snags, flash fuels and dangerous terrain must be observed
O - observe changes in the weather
U - understand your instructions
T - think clearly, stay alert and keep calm at all times
Section 15 Evacuation Procedures
If an order to evacuate or to leave the fire for any reason, is given, fire fighters must:
If you become separated from your crew, go immediately to one of the predetermined safe zones. If you are cut-off and unable to reach a safe area, travel in a downhill direction to find:
In the event of a self-directed evacuation,(ONLY EXTREME DANGER) leave the fire area immediately and proceed to a designated safe zone. Inform your supervisor or other authority as soon as possible.
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