1. #1
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    Talking Roads Flares: Necessary or just fun to play with?

    Nothing too in depth on this one, folks.

    Just wondering how many of you use road flares or fusees (sp?) at MVAs?

    The reason I ask is we're going to start running MVAs soon, and are figuring out what to carry. I've personaly never run with an agency that used them, but many do.

    Since one of our priorities at a MVA is controlling ignition sources, why would we want to light a road flare to divert traffic near a vehicle that may be leaking flammable liquids?

    Also, how many of you use flares to mark LZs for helicopters? I work for a helicopter EMS service, and we teach at our LZ classes to not use flares to mark LZs. Reason being that the rotor wash can easily blow the flare into vegetation and start a ground cover fire.

    Any thoughts?
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    we don't carry flares on our dept. we use flashlights or those reflective cones. we don't want to start a fire either. also for landing zones we use a landing zone kit that has five strobe lights. four of them are orange and depending on the procedure marks the corners and another one is red and goes in the middle. they have a weight on the bottom of them and rotor wash has not so far moved them at all. the kit also comes with belt clips and a stand for use in high grass.
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    We don't use any flares near a scene. PD will usually handle traffic and they will only use flares at a distance. Helicopter landing zones are the strobe kits also. Flares can blow away during landing and go ???

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    We carry and use the "flaming" road flares, but only for traffic control at night, and no-where near the actual scene of the MVA. Usually whoever is on traffic is quite a distance away and more often at the apex of a long corner (we have lots of those in our area).
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    Thumbs up Flares and Cones!

    Silver City 4,

    We carry a lot of flares and we use them on nearly EVERY MVA. Here is the evolution I train the drivers on our company to do for MVA's. He stops the Apparatus (at a 45 degree angle with the officers side toward the MVA/curb) and then completes his "in-cab" stuff (including setting the "spotlights" on to the MVA.

    He then exits the cab and set's the Chock(s), Engages the pump (on complex extrications or obvious fuel & fire hazards), telescopes the "primary" lighting. After he is done with these procedures he then grabs 6-8 cones (mounted on the tail board or some of our apparatus have them mounted on the side running board), then he turns them over and stuffs a "handfull" of road flares in to the bottom cone. While ALWAYS facing the traffic he walks 100 feet (depending on the speed limit) behind the apparatus and places the FIRST cone(toward the center lane) setting all of them out every 10-15 feet angling (45 deg.)toward the curb. When at the last cone, he dumps out the flares and starts his flare pattern in exactly the same fashion (45 deg. inside to out) If on a curve he makes certain a warning flares makes in beyond the bend for a forewarning.

    The reason for the flares is a VISUAL warning for the oncoming drivers, and flare pattern in an AUDIBLE warning (Thump, thump, thump! of the cones) for the rescue personnel. (I have once been blessed by the cones myself). Once he has made the scene safer then the driver comes back and sets up the "secondary" lighting and joins the rest of the company. I know a lot of crews don't employ this stuff because PD handles it. We have built it in to our Extrication Evolutions. Of course common sense prevails so I won't say EVERY MVA but NEARLY every MVA.

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    Everyone around here uses flares ... and we like them. We try to use traffic cones as much as possible, but they don't provide the visual effect of a bright red flare. We have the strobe sets, but they are almost useless in the daylight. We experimented with the strobes for a daytime landing zone at a training session. Both pilots of the aircraft said they could not see them until they were almost landed. I suppose they would be great at night, but won't replace flares in the day.

    As with anything else we do, you need to use common sense. You never set flares up downhill or downwind from a crash and you set them a reasonable distance away from the crash. We normally set up traffic patters with the flares being furthest from the scene, then comes the cones and the strobes are nearest to the incident. And for goodness sake, don't use them as a "traffic wand" unless you like burning holes in your clothes.

    I would recommend having them on board. They don't take up much space and they give you more options when you are in need of scene controls.
    Richard Nester
    Orrville (OH) Fire Dept.

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    Mag-lite torches with the small cones on the end, work magic for the "guy waving down traffic" jobs. The nice thing is the hole in the end allows a good beam of light out, it gets the drivers attention real fast when flashed across the windscreen.
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    Cool Road flares

    The Rescue squad I'm attached to has been using road flares since year dot (1968) and have only once had a problem ( Had a rookie on traffic diversion who had a revelation to stand the flare upright in the end of a rubber traffic cone. Result: Lots of acrid smoke, a pile of chared rubber and a very red faces rookie filling out an "please explain" report [COLOR=orange]

    The flares we use have a extrusion lug in the strike cap, which is placed (Re-Fitted) on the tail and prevent the flare from rolling away.

    You could as a last result use flares for a temp helipad, yeah, yeah, I know down wash is a huge issue, but you get around this by pinning the flare to the ground in the Horizontal position with 2 heavy tent pegs. (This is pretty last resort stuff, but it works).

    In this day and age, flare's really are becoming, a thing of the past our PD is now implementing a self contained, tail weighted-Self righting, battery operated unit, that has a series of strobing LED's at its base that are reflected of a series of mirrors. They basically drive up, wind the window down, switch the unit on, and drop it out the window onto the road, drive on. It sounds like a toy, but it really works with a 1/2 Km visabillity. There on trial wih the PD so we'll see if they last any real lenght of time.

    I personally prefer the time old method of the 4D maglite with a traffic wand attached. Common sense with flare's is a must. Also as a reminder, Liquid Petoleum Gas is heavier than air, so the use of a flare in a leak is only reccomended if its at the top of a crest or hill, etc.
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    Finally taken the plunge and posted Podman! Welcome aboard!!!

    The only down side I've seen with these battery operated devices the Police are using is the batteries. The number of times I've seen them go to use them, or part way through using them and the batteries give out!

    I beleive the reason we were going away from the burning flares you mention is the problems with "Dangerous Goods"- they are a prescribed hazardous material, thus requiring certain precautions in transport and use. Gotta agree that they do work well, though.

    The other advantage with a maglite is that we can hold it at windscreen height as an irate driver refuses our directions and tries to drive past or through us!

    Also, don't forget that the maglite is not intrinsically safe, either....
    Luke

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    Lightbulb Flares or "Turbo Flares"

    Our Fire Rescue Department uses "Turbo Flares" instaed of normal Flares.
    The big difference is that flares burn and the "Turbo Flare" uses rechargeable batteries and can be installed in the Emergency Vehicle.
    So there's no risk of starting a fire when there is a feul spill.
    The are extremely shockproof, you can drive over them.
    It can work up to 100 "burn" hours can i flare do the same?

    Here are some website were you can find information.
    http://www.turbo-flare.com/
    http://www.westchatham.com/id432.htm
    http://www.truckersmall.net/turboflare.html
    http://shop.store.yahoo.com/atrendyh...flarcarro.html
    http://www.lumenlogic.com/turbo-flare/default.htm

    or just type "Turbo Flare" in your search engines...

    ffemt19

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    I've heard of these but haven't actually seen this at anything other than a trade show. They look good...

    Are they intrinsically safe?
    Luke

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    Thumbs down TURBO FLARES

    A little off subject but,
    Although sold as as landing zone kit for helicopters, it seems the turbo flares dont work. They were used recently to set up a landing zone for a training, after which the pilot said "never even saw them till i was on the ground" I know traffic cones are not the best due to prop wash, but at least they can be seen during the day, and are safer than flares. Anybody use anything else to mark landing zones??
    Last edited by FDNA49; 07-15-2002 at 01:55 PM.

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    We do use flares, but not very often.

    They're good when you want to set up a warning "over the hill" or "around the curve" -- 3 20min fusees setup in a zig-zag so you light the first, and as it burns out it ignites the second which in turn will light the third for 'bout an hour of warning.

    They grab people's attention that something real unusual is happening.

    However, on the scene itself it's vehicle positioning & cones used.

    They are useful too were an unusually large amount of "blocking" is needed -- our Service truck carries only 5 cones, if we're blocking an intersection remote from the scene, flares can help augment cones across a three or four lane road. (Police in our area usually don't get involved with traffic control until the emergency is over)

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    Thanks for the replies so far.

    Road flares will light a backfire real nice, too.

    No agency near us uses anything but vehicles to mark landing zones, and many agencies carry handheld GPS units.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    The chemical light sticks work pretty good at night. Drop one at each corner of an LZ and if needed you can tie a string to one and whirl it over your head to get the helo's attention. This is how we did it when I was in the military. Now normally for LZ's, the pilot finds our emergency lights and we give him verbal instructions from there ie. 'parking lot 100 ft to our north, no overhead hazards'.
    We just replaced the cones on all our rigs, they have a band of reflective tape around the cone's center. All rigs carry flares as well, but police cars seem to work better.

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    we use Flight Site landing zone kit. The local med copter service really likes them. They are made by Priority 1 Life Safety Strobes. website is www.priority1lss.com
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    Default a little bit off topic....

    Bryan -

    What do your pilots think about LZ strobe kits? If you have a Night Sun on the bird, why bother?
    Asst. Chief Bill

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    We also use flares for any MVA's and for incidents where there are blind spots. I believe they are still a efficient and effective visual device, that are also cost effective. (We get half of them from the PD) We also use caution with them when we have been dry, and have had some small brush fires from them. Which when conditions are bad we usually have one of the fire police stand-by with them to light new ones, and watch the cones, and they have a water can or indian tank if one blows to the side of the road. For LZ's, our medevac agency requires nothing on the ground except a apparatus, we give them the typical verbal report of any obstructions in the area, they also have great illumination on their birds. Most of the pilots are ex-military so they are used to no markers. We also are fortunate to have very open atheltic fields with only fences around them, as well well illuminated parking lots and 2 industrial areas with a helo pad.

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    I could just call Bill and tell him my answer (since we're neighbors) but how would that advance the knowledge presented in these forums?

    I'll try and remember to specificly ask the next time I work, but I can't recall any of our pilots saying anything about pros/cons of strobe light kits. Our landing lights are adequate to land with at night with the appropriate verbal commands from a LZ coordinator, and then we have a NightSun on the bird too. I'm sure you guys know, but if not, a NightSun is one bright spotlight. "Spotlight" may be too cute of a term. They are BRIGHT.

    I'll find out in couple of days when I go back to work.
    Bryan Beall
    Silver City, Oklahoma USA

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    We use alot of flares at our MVA's but at a long distance from the vehicles. As far as an LZ we usually use our personal vehicles with the rotating lights on top. The helicopter personnel say that this is the best idea they have seen. The only time we use flares for an LZ is if there aren't enough POV's around.

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    Our local air ambulance prefer flares for night landing zones. The thought behind it for them is Flares are a steady light source, if while in the process of landing they lose sight of one of the flares temporarily they know that something is out there. We use vehicles with red rotators on the roof to assist in locating the LZ. But if the actual scene is within visual range of the Helocopter crew they may go to the wrong area. To prevent the flares from blowing away we had some stands made up for the flares consisting of steel disks approx. 2 feet in diameter and a piece of steel tubing with a large enough ID to accomodate a flare. They are carried on our Fire Police vehicle and can be set up in a few minutes. During the day we use cones to delineate the LZ.
    We also use cones for traffic direction, but we use common sence. If conditions are extreemly dry we will use other methods that may not be as visible but still work. More often than not we manage to get flares from the various law enforcement agencies to replace the ones we used.
    Shawn M. Cecula
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    when setting up landing zones, we use a LZ kit, containing strobes for the ground, and we sometimes use cones. So far with my one year of experience on our fire department, I've only been on two calls where we have landed a helo. We have a captain on our department that is excellent in the logistics of landing zones, which helps alot. Also, our response area covers ALOT of mileage, and in this mileage is alot of open fields, and lack of power lines which means LZ's can be much easier to handle than some other instances

    --cbrooks702

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    We use flares for LZ's. We purchased a strobe LZ kit a couple years ago. It was used once. After the ship landed, the pilot took me aside and gave me a very strong suggestion as to where I could shove my strobes. He specifically requested us to use flares in the future. Never had one blow away yet in the rotor wash, either. Vehicle warning lights for LZ's are also forbidden in our area.

    As far as traffic control at MVA's - flares again. Although our fire police also use cones, barricades, and arrow-sticks. Keep the flares away from the involved vehicles and there is no problem. If there is fuel leakage - control the spill, don't blame the flare.

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    at our past couple of MVA's i've ran, our county or city sherrif squads have done an excellent job with controlling traffic and rerouting it to keep things running smoothly. For traffic control, police squads are usually used to shut down the road at the intersection closest to the accident, therefore leaving a quick and quasi-painless detour route. I just have to say "kudos" if you will, to our county for a good job on keepin' things movin rite along.

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    Default Led Wand

    We've gone to these LED WANDS (see attatched image)

    They are effective for flagmen, and we have built PVC cap's for our cones so we can put the wand upright on top of the cone. I'll snap some pics of the cone cap arrangment we've made and post them back here.

    We utilize a 'post reflective advance warning traffic sign' in addition to a bush truck outfitted with a 'variable message sign board' to provide advance warning to motorists. This combined with a new bit of legislation which limits speed limits while passing emergency scenes to 60km/h has reduced the average speed of passing vehicles to an almost tolerable level.

    Our Medivac system here has made available to all agencies the Turbo-flare LED beacons as mentioned in a previous post in this thread. We generally make contact with the pilot before he gets on station and give them an orientation to the location, hazards and wind conditions as well as a refferance to the marking devices in use.
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