A very vivid lesson that was driven home to me in SEAT training was the video of a car in the path of 800 gallons of water. A firefighter in the open, who had several hundred gallons of water dropped on him at best would be covered, gooey and sticky for days. At worst, he could be killed or injured.In horror I “dis-armed” my gate, called “off the fire, still loaded” and circled out over the terrain. Loaded, at 5800 feet, the 802 didn’t particularly want to climb. We slowly eased our way back up, to get back over the high ground to be able to make the drop, or at least attempt it again. Things don’t always work out.
The next drop the Air Attack asked for a “roll up” to a prior line. For me, this has always been the hardest drop to do. You have to time the release of the retardant in such a way that the load, even with the wind, carries up to the prior drop leaving no gap. Fire loves a gap. It will go through a weak place very rapidly, just like water through a leaky hose. Ive been working on this one. For the first time ever, I got a perfect roll up. No overshoot, no undershoot. I was proud. Air Attack then said “that was late…I wanted more of it out over the finger of fire extending from the shoulder, we’ll fill the gap later”. Arrgh. Things don’t always work out….
A couple more loads went off without excitement. I could see we were finishing up the fire. It had a nice red line painted all around it, save a short area at the “head” of the fire. I got set up along the left “shoulder” of the fire, and then did a curving drop that placed the retardant in a “C” shape around the left shoulder up around the dying head of the fire.
I was proud. Sometimes things do work out.