It’s common knowledge that rescue helicopters, as well as aerial cranes, are employed in the treatment of wildfires. They not only execute the search, rescue and recovery efforts, they pull water from surrounding water sources and either utilize a bucket to dump onto the flames or spread retardant to extinguish or stop the spread of the blaze. In various emergency situations, these aerial firefighting helicopters have proved integral at pivotal moments in time in lifting individuals out of dire circumstances when they have been trapped by falling debris or flames. These efforts are all a part of endeavoring to halt the spread of massive wildfires in forested areas and regions where there may be a lot of brush. However, what about firefighting in a metropolitan area? Enter Helo High Rise Teams.
Recently, new firefighting teams consisting of trained firefighters and helicopters have been established to aid in firefighting in more congested or metropolitan areas. These teams often referred to as Helo High Rise Teams or HHRT are employed to stop the spread of fire from the top of a high rise building down. The firefighters are conveyed to the rooftops of high rises by helicopters and dropped to commence SAR efforts as well as halting the spread of the fire within.
Although these teams haven’t seen the same amount of action as the helicopters and firefighters deployed in wildfire treatments, they are proving their skills essential in firefighting in skyscrapers and buildings that are difficult to access.
Administering aid during high rise fires is crucial as numerous exits may be blocked by flame or smoke and individuals trapped try to escape by climbing upward toward the rooftop to breathe fresh air. Rooftop helicopter lifts are utilized to carry them to safety. At the time of a fire, the building’s electrical systems won’t work accordingly, hallways will be dark, and elevators will cease to work.
Firefighters will be able to make their way down, search each and every floor, safely permitting the recovery of individuals and will make attempts to locate the source of the fire. They will further check the integrity of the ventilation systems and relay important information regarding damage to officials waiting outside.
Part of the concern with respect to these HHRT teams is that they have little opportunity to put into practice what they have learned as the majority of city and state agencies lack the funding to cover the expense of additional training, equipment and helicopters as well as the extra manpower. One thing is certain, however, allowing for Helo High Rise Teams to train when it’s possible could mitigate difficulty in emergent scenarios regarding high rises in the future.
These specialized teams could render aid following not only fires, but also deliver emergcnecy services during an earthquake, tornado, and explosions as well as in the case of structural issues that could have an impact on the inhabitants of the high rises safety. Studies indicate the sooner firefighters are able to arrive on the scene, render aid, contain the blaze, and locate the sources of instability, the fewer lives are lost and damage to property is reduced.
In cases where communities don’t possess the resources to provide these services through local government agencies, they may need to employ the use of privatized helicopter services. Helicopter operators the world over have facilitated the need for helicopters and crews to assist in high rise firefighting. This is not the most economical solution, however, therefore it may be time for government officials to start to implement HHRT efforts into their firefighting protocols.