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NIGHT OPERATIONS There is a great reluctance by city/county fire agencies to pursue


nighttime dipping operations over bodies of water, even with NVG. Pilots complain of a ‘white-out’ effect from water vapor stirred up by the helicopter’s rotor wash, especially over large bodies of water, and some have even reported mud on the windscreen from dust mixing with water vapor and sticking to the glass. As a result, current standard practice is to land and do a ground


fill, where fire hoses are attached to a helicopter’s drop tank for the purpose of refilling between drops. This is labor intensive, since a ground crew has to perform the operation while the flight crew remains on the idling helicopter, but pilots pretty much universally agree that it is the safest way to do things. As soon as the load is completed, the helicopter can lift off and return to the fray. Insofar as hoist rescues are concerned, there are two schools of


thought: traditional hoist and European style. The aircraft hovers directly over the target in a traditional hoist operation while lifting and lowering personnel. In European style, the aircraft moves slow- ly forward while lowering the medic, then hovers during the last 10’ of the medic’s descent. The European method has two main advan- tages: less danger to those on the hoist or the ground if an engine failure occurs; and a reduced tendency for the people on the hoist to be spun around by the rotor wash. Currently, there are three fire agencies in Southern California


which use NVG: Los Angeles County Fire Department, San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, and Orange County Fire Authority. These agencies use Generation 3 aviator goggles (typically designated as AN/AVS 9 – nicknamed “ANVIS 9”). We now take a brief look at what their experience and policies entail for effective (and safe) use of NVG.


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