The Fire Call
Forest fires started by lightning or by human activity are a common occurrence in Northern BC. Fire calls occur at anytime during the daylight hours, between the months of April and October. The initial fire report can be made by members of the public, industry, or patrol planes. Crews are deployed in three-person teams, with a maximum of two crews per Twin Otter load and four crews per a DC-3 load.
Once deployed on a fire, the crews are self sustainable with water food and fuel for a 48 hour period. The fire size and location will determine the amount of time a crew will stay out on a fire. Camping overnight on a fire is part of the Parattack experience and allows for the work to begin at daylight and end at sundown. Extraction from the fire can be done by two methods:
- Pick up by a helicopter, or,
- “Pack-out” where all crew members hike out to a road or access point for vehicle pickup.
A DeHavilland Twin Otter aircraft, known as Jumpship 2, can support six smokejumpers and a command spotter. The DeHavilland DHC-6 Twin Otter is a Canadian STOL (Short Takeoff & Landing) Aircraft.
The DC-3 was first signed on as a second jumpship in 2013. The DC-3, dubbed Jumpship 1, can hold 12 jumpers and all their gear. It is also very rugged and can take off and land on dirt or grass runways.
With two aircraft, Parattack covers a majority of the North East on a regular basis and other parts of BC on a as-needed basis. The horizontal mobility makes their crews an excellent asset to vertically boost any base in the Province, with minimal loss in response time as demonstrated by the following range rings:
The FS-14 Parachute is a product of 50 plus years of forest service canopy innovation. It is a parabolic, single porosity, steerable round canopy with 18″ anti-inversion netting extending from its lower lateral band. A reserve parachute is worn on the chest of the jumper in case of a malfunction in the main parachute.
The parachute loft is an area of the NPSB where parachutes are hung to dry, inspected, repaired, and re-packed. Certification is required for those involved in these processes and training continues throughout the season. Strict policies are also implemented to ensure the safety and lasting dependability of the parachutes.
Jumpers are responsible for maintaining and packing all the gear required to work on a fire. Water pumps, hose, chainsaws, sleeping gear, food and water are all carefully packed in bags with protective armour. These bags are clipped to cargo parachutes and dropped from the plane after jumpers have landed.