The German Fire Brigades Association publishes the technical recommendation “Luftfahrzeugeinsatz / Aerial Firefighting Air Operations für und durch die Feuerwehr” under the leadership of Dr Ulrich Cimolino (BF Düsseldorf), Stephan Brust (Staatliche Feuerwehrschule Würzburg), Dr Martin Schmid (Freiwillige Feuerwehr München) and @fire - Internationaler Katastrophenschutz e.V.
The use of aircraft in firefighting situations such as forest fires requires great safety and knowledge on the part of all involved. This starts with the mission and operational tactics and continues with the refuelling with water and fuel and ends with the command and control. In order to structure knowledge and expectations of the complex topic, the Working Group on Forest Fires in the Technical Committee on Deployment, Extinguishing Agents and Environmental Protection of the German Fire Brigades Association (DFV) has prepared a technical recommendation.
Under the leadership of Dr Ulrich Cimolino (Düsseldorf Fire Brigade), Stephan Brust (Würzburg State Fire Brigade School), Dr Martin Schmid (Munich Volunteer Fire Brigade) and Jan Südmersen (@fire), a 57-page documentation of necessary prerequisites, classifications and processes was produced. “Extremely different knowledge and expectations about the use of aircraft unnecessarily complicate the joint operation or even call its success into question,” Dr Ulrich Cimolino, chair of the forest fire working group, explains the background. The publication includes the results of an international @fire workshop on forest firefighting using aircraft with the participation of the DFV’s Forest Fire Working Group, which also involved stakeholders from fire brigades, ministries and state firefighting schools as well as a wide range of agencies (police forces of the German states).
Länder, Federal Police, Federal Armed Forces and private individuals) as well as pilots of aircraft had participated.
“For safe cooperation in the use of aircraft, it is essential to speak a common language - also technically!” explains DFV Vice President Karl-Heinz Frank, who is responsible for the working group. “All those involved must be clear about procedures, for example in communication or the organisation of the operation section. This technical recommendation makes an important contribution to the structuring of operational procedures. It not only offers a good introduction to the topic, but also presents concrete procedures and contains templates, for example, for recording helicopters in action,” he explains.
A summary of the publication is published here. The complete technical recommendation “Aircraft Operations/Aerial Firefighting Air Operations for and by the Fire Service” is available online at www.feuerwehrverband.de/fachliches/publikationen/fachempfehlungen/.
Vegetation fires in particular require the deployment of various units, resources and organisations in the sense of an “operation of combined forces”. This also means that in these operations, aircraft are only one of many means of intervention and support firefighting, but fundamentally cannot be successful on their own. However, similar situations can also occur in other natural or natural-influenced dynamic area situations, such as those that can be typical for heavy rainfall events or flood disasters. Depending on the task and availability, drones, helicopters or fixed-wing aircraft are used for this purpose.
The use of aircraft in non-police emergency response is internationally referred to as Aerial Firefighting or Air Operations, abbreviated to AirOps.
It encompasses much more than just aerial firefighting.
During deployment, support or assistance may also come from abroad or, for example, from friendly foreign troops in Germany. English technical terms in this context should therefore be known. If necessary, sufficient linguistically competent emergency personnel may also have to be deployed for communication purposes. This is the case at the latest when the request has also been issued to foreign-language units (for example, units from the EU Civil Protection or rescEU procedures) or these are already deployed in the area close to the border (for example, CH-47 of the Dutch Air Force) or due to their own competences (for example, “Blackhawk”, “Apache”, CH-47 or similar in the event of a fire on US-used military training areas).
In addition to reconnaissance or aerial photography with aircraft, it is possible to use aerial photographs for position information from remote sensing, for example from satellites. If necessary, this data can be made available via the control centres by the Centre for Satellite Based Crisis Communication (ZKI) at the German Aerospace Centre (DLR).
Depending on the extent of the aircraft deployment, a more or less large accompanying effort has to be made. To make this easier to plan, the deployment is divided into stages depending on the type and number of aircraft deployed.
In order to be able to plan and communicate more easily and clearly in operations, aircraft must be clearly identifiable in their operational value. For this they will
The technical recommendation has the following
Points on content:
- Use of aircraft with multiple sub-items:
- Incident command (with unit briefing, map/location information and anatomy of vegetation fires),
- Safe cooperation in operations: air - ground (with safe flight operations on the ground as well as safety at the
ground during aerial firefighting operations),
- Leadership of the “Air” operational section
- Leadership in the air,
- Video, image and WBC data,
- Fire-fighting operation (with direct fire-fighting operation, types of dropping [influence of flight and dropping height, dropping technique, use of ALB with different
load lifting devices, recommendations for drop types], extinguishing agents, training of pilots and aircraft crews),
- Selection of the aircraft,
- Requirement (release, routes, costs),
- Head of Operations Air,
- Flight operations,
- Categorisation of aircraft:
- Levels of operation in relation to aircraft,
- Categorisation of aircraft (with unmanned aerial systems (“drones”), helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft)
- Outlook and further developments,
- Forms (with recording of helicopters and helicopters for rescue/rescue operations or patient transport),
The technical recommendation was prepared with the expert support of @fire, the State Fire Brigade School Würzburg and Alexander Otte (operational pilot on Airbus Helicopters AS 332 “Super Puma”). This publication has been prepared to the best of our knowledge and with the utmost care and has been reviewed by the responsible departments and the DFV Executive Committee. However, liability on the part of the authors or the German Fire Brigades Association is fundamentally excluded.