New tool may help prevent forest fire

New tool may help prevent forest fire
Firefighters are testing prototype

14 May 2010

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Canada — Provincial fire crews will test new technology this summer that is expected to fight small forest fires faster.

Prototypes of a new bucket system, believed to be the first of its kind in the world, will be tested on wildfires in the Parksville-based Coastal Fire Centre region as well as around Kamloops.

CFC aviation crews, provincial air carriers and SEI Industries Ltd helped develop the new equipment, dubbed the Bambi Bucket Off-Load Port. The concept originated from a helicopter pilot who worked with the centre. The technology could yield faster crew response times to fires, said CFC spokeswoman Donna MacPherson, since it could ferry water to ground crews faster as well as free up helicopter air time.

Currently, a pilot needs to land a helicopter, detach the water bucket and take a crew person away from the fire line to help load a portable water tank. The pilot and crew fly to a water source, fill the tank and return to the fire where the water bucket must be reattached to the helicopter before it resumes duties; a process that could be repeated several times. The Bambi Bucket Off-Load Port involves a tube-like device that allows fire crews to fill a portable water tank from an airborne helicopter bucket.

B.C. Wildfire Management Branch crews will provide feedback at the end of the season to help refine the technology.

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