Firefighting Techniques and Technologies

The Bombardier 415 aircraft is the only aircraft designed and built for firefighting. It uses a range of firefighting techniques, including its unique ability to scoop large amounts of water from a nearby water source, mix it with foam suppressant, and make repeated drops on a fire without having to return to base to reload water.

Water Scooping

Bombardier 415 water scooping

Using a Bombardier 415 aircraft, this effective firefighting technique takes only 12 seconds, travelling at 130 km/h (70 knots) and 410 metres (1,350 feet), to scoop up a 6,137-litre (1,621-US-gallon) water load. 

The aircraft can scoop water from sites that are only two metres (6.5 feet) deep and 90 metres (300 feet) wide. When the water site is too small for a full pick-up, the Bombardier 415  aircraft takes a partial load and returns to the fire. 

In addition, the Bombardier 415 aircraft doesn’t need a straight scooping path. Since the aircraft is still in "flying" mode while scooping, pilots can easily manoeuvre around river bends or visible obstacles in the water.

Scooping Time

12 seconds

Water Volume Scooped

6,137 litres (1,621 US gallons)

Water Mass Scooped

6,137 kilograms (13,500 pounds)

Water Pickup Distance

410 metres (1,350 feet)

Total Distance*

1,340 metres (4,400 feet)

*includes descent from 15 metres (50 feet) and climb-out to 15 metres (50 feet)

Firefighting Foam

Firefighting foam is a relatively new technology in both urban and wildland firefighting. The foam is mixed with water to produce a very effective fire suppressant. The foam is essentially a short-term concentrated and when mixed with water, increases its heat absorption capability enabling the cessation of flames and allowing for crew to complete the fire extinguishing exercise.

Class "A" firefighting foam delivers the following benefits:

  • Improves drop coverage: The mixture of foam and water expands and doubles the drop area. The foam drop can easily be seen from the air, allowing pilots to maximize coverage.
  • Protects unburned vegetation and structures: The foam increases moisture penetration, creates an air barrier and reflects radiant heat. It also clings to tree and structure surfaces, providing additional protection.
  • Suppresses flame: Used directly on the fire, the foam reduces flame height and intensity, enhancing the safety of ground crews. It also tends to reduce smoke, making it safer for firefighting aircraft to operate in the area.
  • Increases firefighting mission cost effectiveness: Using a typical 0.4% concentration of foam, a 6000-litre (1585-gallon) water load requires only 24 litres (6.4 gallons) of foam concentrate.