Working With Helicopter Drops

Page Last Modified / Reviewed: 
Jun 2020

Consider the following questions when you have a helicopter with a bucket working in your area:

  • If the helicopter is a Type 1, increase the distance of standby place from the drop zone.
  • Use helicopter drops to knock down or secure a fire area that poses a direct imminent threat to escaping control lines or climbing up ladder fuels.
  • Do you have good communications?
  • Does the pilot have a clear understanding of the target?
  • Are trees and snags in the drop zone?
  • Are ground crews clear of the area?
  • What are the winds doing?
  • What is the turnaround time for the helicopter?
  • Are people on the ground aware of the effects of the helicopter’s rotor wash?
  • Give feedback to the pilot about drop accuracy. Be honest and constructive.
  • Be aware that helicopter performance capabilities may be significantly reduced at high altitudes and/or high temperatures.


Additional Resources

Incident Management Situation Report (IMSR)
Incident Response Pocket Guide (IRPG), PMS 461
NWCG Standards for Helicopter Operations, PMS 510
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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