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    Default Use of Cropdusting Aircraft as a Firefighting Tool

    In the last report I prepared for the line officers of my department, I brought up the notion of using cropdusting aircraft for firefighting purposes, both on brushfires as done in the West and attacking such large structures as warehouses, schools, et al. to try to reduce the need to put firefighters on a roof that could well collapse underneath them while they are trying to ventilate. By dropping fire retardant on the roof of a large structure from the air in addition to the use of ground apparatus designed and used for the ladder/truck work, the idea is to prevent casualties or reduce the probability of men and women falling through a collapsing roof during attempts to ventilate the structure from on the roof. I believe that adding this tool to a fire department's arsenal of tools for fire fighting would go along way to protecting the truck men/women who are tasked with the ventilation job as part of exterior work. Even a helicopter could be used in urban areas. It is the rural areas where a fixed wing crop duster aircraft would be particularly useful in brush fire fighting operations as well as some large structures in addition to ground based personnel and equipment. Not that every department needs to go out and buy their own aircraft for firefighting purposes as the Western States seem to have done, but engage on a case by case basis, pilot and plane for firefighting operations should a brushfire get beyond the control of ground personnel and equipment alone. Not that it can't happen here in New York State; it can. The goal of protecting firefighters' lives and casualty prevention or reduction is why I suggest this idea as an addition to the tools available to the firefighter, both rural volunteer and paid professional. I love the men and women of the fire service too much to want to see people fall through roofs during ventilation operations, thus the aerial attack as an additional tool suggested by me for this purpose.

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    Covering a roof with "fire retardent" is in no way/shape/form the same as ventilating it.

    Failure to properly/adequately ventilate a building on fire may kill people. Dropping fire retardent, from an aircraft, on a roof will do very little useful and probably work against any vertical ventilation efforts that were done.

    Leave the planes for wildland fires.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Covering a roof with "fire retardent" is in no way/shape/form the same as ventilating it.

    Failure to properly/adequately ventilate a building on fire may kill people. Dropping fire retardent, from an aircraft, on a roof will do very little useful and probably work against any vertical ventilation efforts that were done.

    Leave the planes for wildland fires.
    Yeah, what he said.

    "Command, this is Interior One."

    "Go ahead to Command."

    "It's getting hot, what's the status on ventilation."

    "Interior One, don't worry about. We're dropping fire retardant on the roof instead"

    "?!?!!?"
    Last edited by randsc; 09-12-2007 at 09:29 AM.

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    Retadent might help protect exposures but a structure that is on fire is usually burning from the inside out, dropping retardent on an already burning building that has not self ventilated is not going to do anything.
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    A crop dusting aircraft unfortunately is 100% useless for firefighting. It can not and never will be able to deliver the volume of water needed to do anything useful. They are designed to spray a mist of insecticide onto crops. The volume would be totally ineffective for structural or brush/wildland fires. It would seriously be like getting spray bottle and pointing it at a house fire.

    Even if a crop duster could drop retardant, it would have the same problem as above.
    Last edited by nmfire; 09-12-2007 at 10:57 AM.
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    Crop dusters would not work for structure attack for the reasons others have mentioned. In addition the largest ones carry 800-1000 gal.

    We have used them for several years (They are called Single Engine Air Tankers, or SEATS) on wildland. They have proven quite effective on initial attack. They do not drop using the spray bars but drop like the larger air tankers. The can carry retardant or a class A foam mix.

    They are most effective on light fuels and can get into areas that the heavy tankers cannot. In addition they require minimunal facilities for support as opposed to the heavies. We normally have two on standby during the fire season with a crew of ground support folks that set up portable tanks to fill the aircraft.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rayr49 View Post
    We have used them for several years (They are called Single Engine Air Tankers, or SEATS) on wildland. They have proven quite effective on initial attack. They do not drop using the spray bars but drop like the larger air tankers. The can carry retardant or a class A foam mix.
    And this is NOT a crop duster
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    True,

    Same aircraft but different drop system.

    If I recall some helicopters and possibly an air tanker were used for structure attack in Fargo, ND several years ago due to flooding in the downtown area. Apparatus couldn't get in because the water was too deep. I don't recall anything on how effective the operation was.



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    I don't recall anything on how effective the operation was.
    The fire went out when it got down to the water level.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    They also loaded their apparatus onto flatbed trucks to keep the air intakes clear of the river and drafted onto the fires using their monitors.
    Other than that,I'm agreeing with others that the typical cropduster doesn't have enough capacity to put down a fire and wouldn't put the retardent/water onto the flames where it is needed.Soaking the roof is a good idea for keeping embers from spreading but,you still should vent the roof to allow heat to get out and visibilty to improve if I understand what I'd been taught about firefighting.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rayr49 View Post
    True,
    Same aircraft but different drop system.
    If I recall some helicopters and possibly an air tanker were used for structure attack in Fargo, ND several years ago due to flooding in the downtown area. Apparatus couldn't get in because the water was too deep. I don't recall anything on how effective the operation was.

    Stay Safe
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    Default Ventilation from the Air

    That could be done by dropping of small charges in strategic places on a roof as well as the retardant. These could be rocket propelled and small enough to punch holes in the roof without bringing it down. Best to use a chopper. Just Good points everyone it was just a thought to try to make things safer for everyone.
    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    Yeah, what he said.

    "Command, this is Interior One."

    "Go ahead to Command."

    "It's getting hot, what's the status on ventilation."

    "Interior One, don't worry about. We're dropping fire retardant on the roof instead"

    "?!?!!?"

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    Unfortunately, that kind of device would just end up in the basement, wreck a truss system if it is still intact, and add more fire.
    Even the burger-flippers at McDonald's probably have some McWackers.

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