This Fall, as the capable Valhalla engineers were busy disassembling 2 of our fleet machines to ship over to Australia, a new piece of equipment arrived to be added to our range of fire-fighting artillery. Anyone who has watched action on a forest fire expects to see helicopters slinging big orange Bambi buckets full of water, and seeing airplanes dropping lines of retardant out of their bellies.
Equipping a helicopter with a belly-tank instead of a bucket is a relatively new way of fighting wildfires and is time-efficient. A helicopter with a belly tank can drop off crews of ground fire-fighters at a fire and immediately action the flames, whereas a helicopter with a bucket attached can not move crews around; thus it would have to return to a staging area after dropping off the fire-fighters to attach the bucket and return to the fire front.
The tank uses a snorkel pump that extends below the helicopter which is able to suction out of lakes, ponds, pools and even shallower bodies of water. When the belly-tank is attached to our Bell 212, C-GLFT, it can be filled with over 350 gallons of water in 25 to 30 seconds.