Firefighters’ aerial vehicles

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Firefighters carry out numerous missions on a daily basis. They must know how to show adaptability, each of them presenting specific characteristics. In order to be able to carry them out in their entirety, various pieces of equipment are essential and require the use of a particular vehicle in order to intervene in the best conditions.
This is why we are going to present the air vehicles the most common in order to know a little more about the daily life of firefighters.

Civil security dragon helicopters

The Dragon helicopters, model EC145 civil security are available to firefighters, but also to SAMU, from police or the gendarmerie. They are mainly used for the purpose of accomplishing emergency relief missions and of rescue.

There are about thirty of them in France who have been involved for more than 60 years. They can reach 245 km/h, which allows them to be very quickly mobilized if needed. The crew is made up of a pilot and a mechanic operator. The cabin can then accommodate several professionals depending on the intervention to be performed.

Although the Civil Security Dragon helicopters are dedicated to bringing assistance to the person, they can fulfill technical assistance missions, police or reconnaissance on forest fires.

Bomber planes

Bomber planes are mainly mobilized for prevention missions, from reconnaissance and extinguishing forest fires. They intervene in coordination with the firefighters mobilized on the ground.

In order to be more efficient during the release, a product is added to the tanks in order to stop the spread of the fire more quickly: the retarder.

It is a liquid concentrate which is added to a large majority of water, generally 20% product for 80% water. The retardant is harmless to humans, fauna and flora, but still irritates. This product is red in color, which allows firefighters to spot at first glance which areas have already received this protective varnish and, by contrast, those on which the liquid has not yet been poured. In addition, it reduces flammability by physically blocking the fire, or by triggering a chemical reaction that stops it.

If this product is not exposed to fire, it will retain its properties even if the water that makes up 80 to 90% of the spilled product has evaporated. Its properties then gradually degrade depending on its exposure to wind and rain.

There are three main bombers, such as the canadair, the dash and the tracker that we will present to you below.


the Canadair is the largest water bomber of the French civil security and has tanks that can contain more than 6,000 liters of water. It can be refuel in flight, which constitutes a saving valuable time compared to other planes forced to return to their air base to restock. In order to reload its tanks, the canadair lands on the water and can then take off again to go to the place of intervention. To carry out this replenishment, or scooping, it must graze the surface of a body of water, which can be a lake, a river or a sea, over a length of about 1,500 meters for a duration of 12 seconds on average.

The Dash

the Dash 8 Q400 is initially intended for the transport of passengers or equipment. It has a tank of 10,000 liters, or 4 tonnes more than the Canadair. It offers a high speed of 685 km/h for a range of 2,040 km when loaded. It is used to fight against wildland fires. It is a short-haul civilian aircraft, developed in the early 1980s that can carry 64 people.

The Tracker

the Tracker is originally a military aircraft, converted into a water bomber in the 1970s. It is used for surveillance missions and of first interventions thanks to its speed that can reach 400 km/h. These planes are capable of carry three tons of water to slow the spread of fire.

Air reconnaissance modes

Le Beechcraft

the Beechcraft 200 super king air is an aircraft of bonding and recognition. It ensures the in-flight coordination of air operations as well as investigation and surveillance missions in high-risk areas and it can also transport professionals to hard-to-reach areas.

The role of Beechcraft is to establish a situation report and determine the land and air resources required. It positions itself in orbit in the intervention zone to give as much information as possible to the firefighters. Occasionally, it may happen that the aircraft in question comes dive into the fire to verify a particular point.

The orbit usually takes place towards 5000 feet i.e. 1500 meters above ground. Such an altitude makes it possible to obtain an overview and above all toavoid the Beechcraft to be confrontational with the water bombers.


Drones can be equipped with radars and cameras, which enable guide and visualize operations or guide a rescuer. They have many such as spotting a possible resumption of fire in the forest, looking for a victim in a perilous or aquatic environment, operating in a toxic environment, carrying out reconnaissance on a public road accident or during urban violence.
In order to fly a drone, you must have a pilot’s license that you will have to take in one of the examination centers of the DGAC (Directorate General of Civil Aviation).