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Forest Fires And Nova Scotia's DNR Helicopters

Updated: Apr 9

After spending years photographing and taking videos of the helicopters from NS Land And Forestry (DNR), I reached out to them in order to get more information on what they do. They were happy to provide me with some information so here are some facts about their helicopters and what they do.

Patrol 3 Lands In Halifax

The H125's are more capable than any of their previous helicopters as they have a larger capacity for passengers, equipment, and water for fighting fires.

'Patrol 3'

The H125's also help to get firefighters to remote scenes faster which also allows them to stay on scene longer.

Firefighters on the ground also play a critical role in fighting wildfires in Nova Scotia and they work in tandem with the pilots of the helicopters to ensure safety.

There are many uses for the H125 helicopters including missing persons investigations. In these cases GSAR and other agencies will coordinate together with Nova Scotia Lands And Forestry to locate missing persons in hard to reach areas.

DNR Helicopter Landing In Sackville NS

There are times when a wild land fire moves too fast or is too intense for there to be safe ground suppression. In this case, aircraft are used to slow, or cool down the fire, to allow the ground crews to resume their efforts.

Nova Scotia’s Department of Natural Resources Aviation Services

DNR has a fleet of five helicopters stationed in Shubenacadie. Any location in Nova Scotia can be reached within 1 hour and 45 minutes from Shubenacadie. They can perform many functions such as transporting people and equipment, dropping water, and also assist with reconnaissance efforts.

Nova Scotia's Department of Lands and Forestry Aviation Services

Brush Fire In Bedford 2018

"When all other fire fighting measures fail , the services of large fixed-wing air-tankers are requested from another province. Our membership in the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre (CIFFC) facilitates the sharing of resources between agencies."

Wildfire and Your Woodland

Fire has always been a natural part of the Nova Scotia landscape. At one time it burned where it wished, completely out of any human control. It shaped the forests and grassy plains, both destroying and creating wildlife habitat. Fire shaped new ecosystems, released carbon into the atmosphere, and may have caused changes in climate.

Because of effective modern fire fighting equipment and methods, large fires in Nova Scotia are rare. The potential for one, however, is present each fire season. Ironically, good prevention practices have resulted in an unprecedented buildup of fuels in Nova Scotia’s forests. A large, dangerous wildfire may be only a spark away!

The Importance of Proper Equipment

If you are carrying out work on your woodland by yourself during fire season, you should have on hand a shovel and a filled back tank, at a minimum. Mechanical equipment that may be on-site, such as a farm tractor, should have an approved and inspected fire extinguisher on board and easily accessible.

Nova Scotia Wildfire Suppression

When a wildfire is detected, the situation must be thoroughly examined to determine where the fire is and where it could spread. It is dangerous to start suppression without further investigation. Once the fire has been evaluated, decisions can be made as to what ground suppression activities are required.

A DNR Helicopter Dropping Water On A Lake Echo Forest Fire

Often, the local fire departments will be on the scene before the Department of Natural Resources. If the situation escalates, the police, ambulance services, the forest industry, Emergency Measures Organization and other agencies may become involved.

The Aftermath Of The Cole Harbour Forest Fire

To prevent a flare up, hours can be spent looking for a small wisp of smoke. This could indicate a heat source below ground. If this is not done, the spark could surface and could once again become a running surface fire.

Some fires can require a coordinated effort between several agencies. A small fire may only require the services of two people and a back tank, while a larger fire (15+ kms in length) can require hundreds of people and lots of equipment.

Hammonds Plains Forest Fire


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