New helicopter bucket incorporates gel reservoir

Two companies have collaborated to develop a helicopter water bucket that incorporates a gel-mixing system. The bucket has an electric pump in the bottom that can fill the bucket with water from a water source that is only 12 inches deep. As the bucket fills, the gel, which is stored in a bag inside the bucket, is pumped into the inbound water flow, below the pump.  Both the water and gel are drawn through the pump’s impeller, thoroughly mixing the gel into the water.

This system can eliminate the need to set up a separate tank and gel mixing operation to fill helicopter buckets.

Multiple sizes of gel bags are available, 15-90 gallons, such that at common mixture ratios (1%) the system can inject gel for a full fuel cycle (15-20 drops).

The system was developed by Thermo-Gel, which is a supporter of Wildfire Today, and Absolute Fire Solutions.

Gel bag
The gel bag, which comes in capacities from 15 to 90 gallons.
water and gel pump
The pump in the bottom of the bucket injects and mixes gel as it pumps water into the bucket.

Helicopter with bucket

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.