Basic Forest Fire Suppression Course - Online Lessons


6.2 Aircraft Safety

The province of Nova Scotia presently has a fleet of 5 helicopters; a Bell 212, three MD 500E and one EC 120. These aircraft are very versatile and can perform a variety of functions related to fire suppression. The province is covered with lakes, rivers and many other water sources which makes the helicopter an ideal suppression tool. Their main function is to transport staff to remote areas and provide water drops. They can be used to sling load (equipment suspended in a cargo net below the helicopter) equipment into a fire or used as a platform to observe operations on a large fire. The area required to land a helicopter is small and there are very few sites where this cannot be accomplished, this will assist a crew in accessing a remote site even faster. MD 500E

The Bell 212 (medium aircraft), can carry a 5 person crew, suppression equipment (complete pump unit) and a 300 gallon Bambi bucket.

The MD 500E (light aircraft) carries 1 pilot and 3 passengers. It has a bucket capacity of 100 gallons

Care must be exercised by ground crews when in the area of working aircraft. Water drops from a light or medium usually feel like a heavy rain, however try to avoid the drops whenever you can. Water dropped from a low height can break off weakened tree tops or branches which will end up on the crew.

Helicopter procedures

  1. Only approach helicopter after notification from the pilot and stay in their field of vision (always approach from the front or side).
  2. Ensure that chin strap with hard hat are worn.
  3. Never approach the tail area.
  4. Do not carry anything over shoulder height when approaching helicopter.
  5. If the helicopter is sitting on ground with a sight incline on one side, always approach on the opposite side of the aircraft. The incline will bring you closer to the rotors and therefore will place you or the crew in a dangerous position.
  6. Do not talk to the pilot or distract them, during take off or landing.
  7. Ensure seat belt is secure, when on board the helicopter.
  8. Never smoke near the aircraft.
  9. Never throw items out of or toward the helicopter.
  10. Dress for all types of weather.
  11. Take required medication in the event of flight delays.
  12. When inside the aircraft use headsets or helmets provided.
  13. Remain in your seat unless or until you are given permission.
  14. Instructions will be provided by the pilot for passenger safety prior to the flight.