Fire

Flying by the seat of the pants: far from being the utopian ideal, the provision of aerial support in the form of helicopter resources to manage disasters and carry out a host of other risk control activities has never been more realistic or cost effective.(Air Support)

As the Fire and Rescue Service seeks to explore innovative ways to improve response and manage risk, it is surprising that air support has remained largely unexplored as part of a future response toolkit. A long-time supporter of the air response option, FIRE looks at some possible models for future use

THE UK HAS BEEN HIT BY A SERIES of major incidents in the last two years or so which have shown that the requirement for effective command and control at wide area impact events shows no sign of diminishing. Boscastle, the Carlisle floods, the London bombings in July 2005 and the Buncefield fire highlighted the importance of aerial observation in assisting command and control and making sense of what initially can be seen as a disparate series of events.

Furthermore, in an ideal world, the ability to dispatch a fast response team of search and rescue specialists or disaster managers to anywhere in the UK within minutes of a major disaster would seem to be a good idea. Far from being the utopian ideal, the provision of aerial support in the form of helicopter resources to manage disasters and carry out a host of other risk control activities has never been more realistic or cost effective, as many European and American emergency services have found.

Trial Success

When FIRE reported on the strides being taken in helicopter development in the winter of 2003 there was a certain degree of optimism in the aircraft industry and indeed the fire and rescue services that the future of aerial support was bright. Since then there have been a number of moves forward and an equal number of setbacks which have stalled, for the time being, the momentum towards an integrated response to the acquisition and use of helicopters for Fire and Rescue Service use. …

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