Products, Public Service

Essential Equipment: Water Buckets and Sprayers

By Staff Writer | August 6, 2014
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Portland, Ore., United States

With its advanced engineering capabilities and many years of experience, Simplex offers a one-stop solution for nearly every helicopter mission. Aerial firefighting is one of those strengths.

Simplex has close relationships with fire departments and forest services across the globe. Because of this, their systems are getting bigger and better while reducing weight and drag. Some examples of this evolution include the transition from mirrors and a hanging hose to cameras and a fully retractable fill hose.



Photo courtesy Simplex

With more than 150 supplemental type certificates (STCs), there is a model available for many helicopters. Simplex tanks offer a variety of water drop patterns to suit the mission at hand, be it a long trail drop over grass fires or a single salvo drop to penetrate a dense tree canopy.

Their unique design also allows for the transport of smoke jumpers from site to site between water drops if called upon and with government restrictions on the use of water buckets, Simplex tanks are the only ones certified for night operations in the United States.

More information on Simplex can be found online at:

Delta, British Columbia, Canada

When talking to someone in the U.S. Forest Service, the first name that comes to mind is the Bambi Bucket and that can be credited to its 25-plus years of service. The original Bambi Bucket’s rugged design has allowed for years of success, but SEI has continued to improve the classic workhorse.

With models varying from 270 to 9,840 liters, if your helicopter is equipped with a tail hook, there is a good chance there is a Bambi Bucket to match. With the purchase of the Fast Bucket line from Absolute Fire Solutions, SEI has expanded its current line even further.


SEI’s Bambi Bucket can hold between 270 and 9,840 liters of water to accommodate any size job. Rotor & Wing file photo

The ability to dip fill from large bodies of water or pump fill from very shallow water sources offers versatility while pre-programmable fill loads allow the pilot to take on more water as the helicopter burns through fuel to take that versatility one-step further.

Other important features for those under contract with forestry services include its multi-drop and foam capabilities. SEI also has a wide variety of accessories to increase efficiency for specific missions and a line of power packs to allow the Bambi Bucket to operate independent of the aircraft’s electrical system.

More information on the Bambi Bucket line of products can be found at:



Aerial Fire Control
Magill North, South Australia

The Water Hog is Australian in origin and designed specifically for the harshest of environments. Founded in 2001 with a philosophy based on customer service, AFC now has Water Hogs across the globe.

With models as small as 400 liters and having just delivered a 10,000-liter model to a commercial operator in Montana, there is essentially a bucket for every operation. With the size of Australia in mind, AFC went to work on creating a highly portable system that could be transported packed inside the aircraft and assembled on site for rapid deployment.

Unlike some others, the Water Hog is designed specifically for pump fill as customer feedback has led them to believe it reduces pilot workload.

A manual, pilot-controlled drop valve means there is no limit to how many times the valve can be used with a single load of water and can be quite effective when combined with customizable foam systems.

Another important feature is its freestanding design meaning it can be placed with crews as a reservoir to support forward operations in remote locations while reducing the chance for tangled lines on taking off and landing.

For more information, visit:

IMS New Zealand
Napier, New Zealand

IMS specializes in towed helicopter systems, and that experience with other rotorcraft operations resulted in a product line of fire buckets that offers innovative technology. With a customizable product line between 130 and 5,000 liters, the company aims to offer a viable option for any aircraft drafted into service as a firefighter.


IMS New Zealand’s Cloudburst water bucket can hold up to 5,000 liters. Photo courtesy IMS New Zealand

The Cloudburst is multi-drop capable but as a dip fill only bucket they engineered a self-inflating ring to keep the mouth open while filling. Also unlike some systems is their self-contained foam bladder located in the bucket itself to keep the corrosive foam concentrate as far away from the aircraft as possible. Cloudburst is made from a material that can withstand high operating temperatures, is algae and fungus resistant and has a high UV stability that is also in use by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard.

For more information on the Cloudburst bucket and IMS:

Related: Mission Equipment News

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