The Airborne Fire Fighter
"THAT OTHERS MAY LIVE"
Fire Fighters were assigned to the HH-43B ARRS units as an integral part of the crew that responded to aircraft emergencies. When the Klaxon sounded the crews scrambled and were in their aircraft and airborne, usually within a minute, with the Fire Suppression Kit (FSK) slung underneath the helicopter. The HH-43B was normally the first to arrive at a crash site and would assess the situation taking all precautions with safety of all concerned at the forefront.
The Fire Fighter is the guy who went into the fire when most others were running away from it. They never knew what to expect, as each mission was different.
There was always the concern for on board ordnance on the downed aircraft exploding or the aircraft itself exploding as a result of a fire.
Wearing fire proof suits and dragging a hose from the FSK the Fire Fighter entered the flames of the crashed and burning aircraft. The hovering HH-43B’s rotor wash would suppress the flames providing the Fire Fighter with a path to rescue the crewmembers of the crashed aircraft.
It was with great pride that these individuals would jeopardize their own life in an attempt to save another life. The HH-43B Fire Fighter was never given the appropriate recognition deserved for their selfless efforts to save a downed aircrew.
(PHOTOS COURTESY OF JIM BURNS)