Helicopter Landing Zone Selection

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Nov 2020


Consider the following points when selecting a landing zone for a helicopter:

  • Locate a flat area that is of sufficient size for the type of helicopter you are expecting.
    • Type 1 – Clear and level touchdown pad measuring 30 feet by 30 feet; safety circle measuring 110 feet in diameter.
    • Type 2 – Clear and level touchdown pad measuring 20 feet by 20 feet; safety circle measuring 90 feet in diameter.
    • Type 3 – Clear and level touchdown pad measuring 15 feet by 15 feet; safety circle measuring 75 feet in diameter.
  • Choose an area clear of people, vehicles, and obstructions such as trees, poles, and, especially, overhead wires.
  • The area must be free of stumps, brush, posts, large rocks, or anything over 18 inches high.
  • Consider the wind direction. Helicopters land and take off into the wind.
  • Choose an approach free of obstructions. Any obstruction you cannot eliminate should be relayed to the helicopter crew during initial radio contact.
  • Remove or secure any loose items in and around the landing area such as trash, blankets, hats, or equipment.
  • Wet down the landing area if dusty conditions are present.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
10 Standard Firefighting Orders, PMS 110 
18 Watch Out Situations, PMS 118
10 & 18 Poster, PMS 110-18
NWCG Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
RT-130, Wildland Fire Safety Training Annual Refresher (WFSTAR)
Interagency Standards for Fire and Fire Aviation Operations (Red Book)
Wildland Fire Lessons Learned Center


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