One of the largest and longest-lasting wildfires in the Midwest significantly taxed available helicopter assets, destroyed nearly 100,000 acres and sent smoke plumes into the sky that could be detected by satellites and smelled as far as 450 miles away in Chicago. Across Lake Superior, parts of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula were enveloped in dense smoke for days.
Fire is the sharpest two-edged sword in man’s bag of tools. When under control it was a formidable tool that warmed, comforted, cooked food and kept wild beasts at bay for prehistoric man. Today, it fulfills those and many other needs, yet out of control it is man’s worst nightmare. What greater fear can a pilot have than being at altitude with a fire in the cabin?
Australia has started a three-year research program to investigate the effectiveness of aerial “bush-fire” suppression. The Bush-fire Cooperative Research Centre (BCRC) will look at factors such as the level of aerial and ground suppression required for a fire suppression job and the upper intensity limit for effective suppression from different resources.
Erickson Aircrane (Booth No. 1681) recently completed a series of demonstrations for the Los Angeles City Fire Department (LACFD) to illustrate how its Sikorsky S-64 Aircrane can deal with a range of emergency response missions.