Land it with Care: Safety Tips for Landing a Helicopter Every Firefighter Should Know

Land it with Care: Safety Tips for Landing a Helicopter Every Firefighter Should Know

Whether you are an active participant in quelling forest fires, trauma response, disaster relief or assisting in an observational flight, proper helicopter landings should be in your tactical emergency response capabilities.With the uncertainty and increase of wildland fires, firefighters should be ready for the task of providing proper and safe temporary landings. For example, temporary landings in times of an emergency response can include landing in outlying areas to pick up patients, in urban locations such as highways, parking lots, or even in the middle of a bustling city intersection.Land it with Care Safety Tips for Landing a Helicopter Every Firefighter Should Know

For sure, government agencies or private helicopter services have a set of guidelines and policies concerning fix-site landing operations. However, temporary landing zones need a general knowledge of standard procedures and pilot specifics for fire department personnel to save more lives and avoid casualties on their part.

For a safe and proper temporary landing in times of emergency response operations, here are some things you need to learn.

Choosing the Site

When selecting a landing zone, choose the most even, open area possible. It should be away from towers, trees, and power lines. As far as possible avoid using roads as a landing spot. But land near enough a road for fire vehicles to have a convenient access for water fill operations.

choosing the site

Don’t forget to choose the two-way helicopter spots. These are sites that allow the aircraft to land and take off into the wind. With the extra weight of personnel and water, a helicopter needs all the assistance it can get from the wind. Otherwise, it can threaten everyone’s safety.

Security and Safety of Landing Zones

If you choose a site for landing that is public such as an urban field or a city park, it is sure to gather people who want to watch the spectacle. In this circumstance, you must consider the public’s safety. During emergency response situation, it is important to request for law enforcement assistance.

When working near an aircraft like helicopters, avoid walking around the tail. If you notice someone walking towards the tail rotor, stop them right away. As such, you save another person from disaster.

Marshalling Basics

In fire helicopter emergency responses, a firefighter must be out in the landing zone marshaling the pilot during landings and takeoffs. A marshall must be active in monitoring and managing the landing area, communicating with the pilot, and securing the LZ from onlookers or other responders. It is also necessary that the marshall should have courage in dealing with the helicopter blades approaching him/her.

Marshalling Basics

In most firefighting operations, landing areas can be ridgelines, fields, and dirt roads. As such, helicopters operate in a dust belt area. Assist yourself, the mechanic, and the pilot by wetting the landing site to minimize flying dirt and sand, which can cause reduced visibility and can damage helicopter engines.

In making a landing zone, it can be done by a circled fire hose and chemical light sticks in the night hours. It is also preferable to most pilots that a marshall will extend his/her arms wide in the middle of the LZ as a signal.

For landing zone lighting, solutions range from vehicle lights to handheld spotlights positioned in an X pattern in the middle of the LZ.

Check if Landing Zones Communications are Working

Before operations, identify your local air-to-ground frequency. Also, avoid communicating through radio near the rotor noise. Otherwise, messages can become confusing and can lead to accidents.

Also, when communicating hazards and directing a helicopter, consider using clock references from the pilot’s point of view. For example, 6 o’clock means off the tail and 12 o’clock means off the nose. As with hand signals, always remember that less is more. So, you can minimize it unless there is a major issue.

Get Trained

Training is essential when performing safe and efficient landing operations. There are government agencies training programs that you can avail with certifications. But there are also private helicopter training programs like Micro Flite which can teach basics and even advanced helicopter piloting and manning.

Get Trained


When participating in emergency response operations such as quelling forest fires, it is essential that you are ready. For example, knowledge and training on how to properly land a helicopter can make you do your job more safe and efficient. As such, you will save more lives and minimize casualties of the disaster – Write by GreenFieldGroup.Org

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