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Helicopter safety: the safe use of helicopters in fire suppression and prescribed burning operations

In recent years, forestry programmes in British Columbia have increasingly used helicopters to expedite operations, particularly in the areas of fire suppression and prescribed burning. Between 1970 and 1977 the population of Canadian helicopters doubled, reflecting the increased usage resulting from new, more efficient designs. The number of accidents per year decreased in the 8 years, but the percentage of fatal accidents increased In British Columbia, the accident rate per 10,000 hours in the years 1975 and 1976, was 3.6, the third highest in Canada.
After an extensive period of field work in this province, by the author, it is clear that the people working in and around helicopters do not generally receive enough training in the safety precautions necessary. This lack of training was evident at both the worker level and the supervisory level. In fire suppression operations, the inadequate training is aggravated by haste, which greatly increases the chances of unnecessary accidents.
This report identifies areas of training that need greater-attention, and it offers some guidelines for future training programmes. The report discusses the fundamentals of helicopter flight, in order that the layman may gain some appreciation of what problems the pilot has to tolerate.
Several types of operations are then detailed with safety prescriptions for each one. Some causative factors in each operation are also discussed. The report then analyses the use of helicopters in aerial ignition systems. Of the several systems currently in use, it is clear that the helicopter drip torch is potentially the most hazardous, but to date there have been no serious helicopter drip torch accidents. Finally the report looks at crew deployment techniques, in particular, helicopter rappelling and helitack. The level of training and hazard awareness in these two operations is higher than was generally seen elsewhere, and provides a good example of how helicopters can be used safely and efficiently.
Throughout the report, reference is made to past accidents. These accidents show a fundamental lack of safe practice; a situation that would be improved with better training programmes. They also illustrate some of the diverse and disastrous results of poor training.
The report recommends that the Workers' Compensation Board of British Columbia should seriously consider setting up a series of training films, which, along with posters and leaflets, could be distributed to the various companies and organisations who use helicopters in the course of their operations. Transport Canada is now preparing a series of general training aids, and these will be made available to interested parties. / Forestry, Faculty of / Graduate
Date January 1979
CreatorsDunster, Julian A.
Source SetsUniversity of British Columbia
Detected LanguageEnglish
TypeText, Thesis/Dissertation
RightsFor non-commercial purposes only, such as research, private study and education. Additional conditions apply, see Terms of Use

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