[Belgian Police Air Support] “MD900 G11 supporting Fire Department during Belgium’s hottest day ever”

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This July 24th, Belgium and surrounding countries are going through a severe heat wave.

Belgium reached its hottest ever since 1833 when temperatures started to be recorded. The temperature reached at 16:00 CET was 39.9 Celsius in Kleine Brogel, Limburg (Belgium).

It was announced by David Dehenauw, Head of Forecasting KMI/IRM, on social media.

Belgium launched for its very first time a ‘Code Red Alert’ which applies to the whole territory except the coast from Wednesday, July 24th midnight until Saturday, July 27th midnight.

Many fires were reported throughout the day, at different locations in Belgium.

You may remember in 2013, the Belgian Police Air Support Unit [Directorate of air support (DAFA)] held its ‘open doors’ to the public at the Melsbroek Airport (EBMB) where we celebrated the 20 years Anniversary of the Air Support and could also see up close the team demoing their skills regarding Fire Fighting. They used at the time the MD900 registered G-10.

© Martin Gillet
blank © Martin Gillet

blank © Martin Gillet

Full album from the Grand Public ‘Open Doors’ contains more pictures from these stunning demos.

The technology used is in fact a bucket named ‘Bambi Bucket®’ and sold by SEI Industries. According to the on aircraft specifications (Maximum Takeoff weight etc), different models and options exist.

SEI industries describes their ‘Bambi bucket®’ product as follow : “The proven world standard in aerial firefighting. Launch highly efficient precision attacks against fires by equipping your helicopter with the Bambi Bucket. This tough, lightweight product delivers a solid column of water or foam – on target, every time.

The Bambi Bucket reinvented aerial firefighting for helicopters with its full collapsibility and accurate water drops! In addition, Bambi Buckets :

  • Provide highly cost-effective water delivery.
  • Offer compact, lightweight and portable convenience.
  • Stand up to field conditions thanks to our unique Bambi Bucket fabric – designed for maximum durability and strength.
  • Can be enhanced with our many innovative accessories to create the ultimate aerial firefighting weapon.
  • Offer variable fill capability and foam injection systems.
  • Offer fast-fill and shallow water capability.
  • Provide pilot-controlled dump patterns.
  • Feature a dump valve that opens instantly.
  • Can fit any size helicopter.”
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© SEI Industries

It is not uncommon that the Air Support Unit supports the Fire Departments. Dedicated material as described above has been acquired and pilots trained to use these.

With recent temperatures, the ‘Bambi bucket’ was already used on several occasions.

Today July 24th 2019, around 16:00 CET, Fire Department were called for a peat fire in the Merode Forest (located nearby well-known pharmaceutical firm GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) in the province of Brabant Wallon. We reached out to the Fire Department. They confirmed that ‘The fire was spotted by the Air Support Unit (MD900 registered G-11), returning from another fire in Dinant. Thanks to the Crew Diligence, action could be taken. Around 16:40 CET, a 6 man crew was onsite fighting the peat fire. Fire Department was in fact already there 10 days ago at the same location.

Benoît Denet and I were having a casual business meeting at GAVOX’s office on the Genval Lake. GAVOX which supplies work of art watches to many pilots and squadron. We were reviewing their latest artwork and projects. Suddenly our attention was caught by a low-level approach from the MD900 registered G-11. We immediately thought of fire. It was confirmed when we had the ‘Bambi bucket’ in sight. The G-11 has done over 10 rotations to support the ground team, with a short refuel break in-between.

Although we all live in the area, this is the very first time we see this stunning manoeuvre. The skills set and the care of the Crew was quite impressive.

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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé

 

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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé

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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé
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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé
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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé
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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé
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© Benoît Denet – Michael Happé

These are missions well delivered with a shout out to the Crew for the ‘extra diligence’ to spot potential issues before they get out of proportions.

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