Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 12 conducted aerial firefighting training on the use of the Bambi Bucket, Sept. 8-9.
The Bambi Buckets are large orange buckets designed for aerial firefighting and are capable of holding approximately 1,300 gallons of water. The bucket is suspended by a cable from the bottom of the aircraft, filled with water, and then emptied from altitudes as low as 50 feet via a release valve on the bottom controlled by the helicopter crew to engage a fire below.
"The requirement per the instruction is once per 180 days but we try to complete an evolution once per quarter for training and proficiency." said Lt. David Black, a pilot assigned to HM-12. "It’s great to know that we have such a unique capability to protect the fleet and community.”
Despite the challenging nature of this training, it aides in firefighting and is an additional set of skills that crewmembers can learn.
“Everyone recognizes how important this capability is and the training that goes with it is equally important,” said Black. “Aerial firefighting brings firefighting needs to areas that traditional firefighting cannot reach. It can be challenging because it requires large amounts of communication and coordination between crew members.”
HM-12 completed multiple iterations of the training over the course of the two-day exercise. The qualification requires a ground school curriculum, Bambi Bucket inspection and preparation, and six water pick-ups and six water drops.
HM-12 trains pilots and aircrewmen to employ the Navy’s MH-53E assets worldwide in a variety of missions. They are tasked to support two primary missions, the Airborne Mine Counter Measure mission and the Navy Vertical Onboard Delivery mission to support expeditionary forces.