I'm curious as to what RHobbs1 thinks we could have done better? Perhaps we could incorporate those suggestions the next time. The Civil Air Patrol people did a great job putting out the fire. They were dressed for it plus they were wearing boots.
I like the idea of training from the fire department. Good idea.
Well... I think it would have been better to drive over to the fire with the sprayers. And I think we were a bit loosely organized even though what we did worked. I'm curious to learn how trained firefighters would have gone about it. I'm not saying this to throw shade on anybody, just trying to do a little post-analysis.
Again, nobody can prove or disprove it, but I think it's possible that my rocket, or something ejected from it, started the fire. Whether it did or not, I don't want it to happen again. And whether it does or not, I feel at least some of us should be prepared for it. We"ve got the equipment, although I think we might want more and want it more portable. Do enough of us actually know how best to use it?
I've been having loads of fun since joining up with all you folks. I want to help make sure it continues.
My comments on the fire at Amesbury:
I did see a smoky "substance" falling in the sky in that general area before the fire.
I think the biggest issue on THAT fire was the amount of time it took for the main group of people to notice it, since it was off in the distance. It probably didn't take too long to grow as big as it did, but getting to it quick is the biggest issue in fighting brush fires (some training, some experience). Really the only thing that could help here would be something like whistles, but who wants to carry whistles?
As one who carried one of the field sprayers half way that day, I think we got them there fairly quickly, near the front of the crowd showing up. I think the only way a truck/mobile could have got it there quicker would be if it was already on the vehicle, which may be something to think about. Since we have 2 big units, one at launch site, one in a truck ready to fly. If needed at launch site, its right there in truck (maybe not at Acton, unless we can drive on field in emergency).
Some training on the equipment would help. Something as simple as shooting a few shoots off every launch would help.
Generally speaking, we might want to consider more training - especially for those in flight ops, but also in the club at large. When my Screemin' Green Meenie had a sputtering flight at Amesbury, then nosed in before firing the ejection charge, Guy was immediately off and running with extinguisher equipment. Everything was fine, as it turns out, but we need to make sure that's a universal response, as that's just the kind of event that can "bite us in the thrust nozzles" in the future.
I think we responded well to the Spring fire. The CAP's presence was helpful, if not instrumental. As one of the people lugging the water cans part way, once I got to the scene I had no idea how to properly use them.... but I was also so out of breath I just shoved into someone else's hands whose brain wasn't so oxygen starved. Still, I think we could all use at least a fundamental training on how the equipment works.
It's clear that, his fault or not, Rick feels a great burden from the events. Very commendable! His reflections and suggestions are clearly helpful in looking to future launches. But we all know that the fire hazard comes with the hobby and accidents can happen. This month's fire is kind of good thing for the club in that it's put us on our toes... which, short of canceling the launch, is probably the best thing we can be doing when flying in such dry conditions. And we DO come prepared. The recent fire almost certainly got as big as it was because they were (by reports I've read) more casual fliers who were unprepared for such events.
Hey - on the way home I had a thinky-chunk lodge in my mind-brain. Goes like this: if we're super concerned about the dry conditions, this Saturday, how about we split the RSO job in two: pre-ignition and post ignition? Pre would do everything we know and love of our RSOs, while post would take over after ignition and actively, hands-on pursue anything that looks like it could be pyrotechically hairy.... like a pad fire, smoking wadding, pre-ejection prangs, and the like. That way it'd be one person's focus to look at what happens after the igniters light and the check-in RSO doesn't have divided attention.
We'd also need the LCO to slow things down a bit and make sure the previous flight lands before the next one sets off. Otherwise our extra safety resource could be overwhelmed. Trust me: I'd rather just fly, but keeping things safe seems a bigger priority in the moment.
If this sounds like it's worth trying, I'll volunteer for first shift (first hour or two). But feel free to say, "That's cute, Rob" and send me back downstairs to my rocket dungeon. It just seemed like something we might try if we're acutely concerned about the dry conditions.
It's a good idea to have extra eyes on the lookout for fires but I don't think we need an extra RSO or or to slow the launches down. I think if the folks hanging around the pads waiting for their rockets to launch would keep an extra eye out, then we're a shout away from launch control if something happens. The LCO always announces if it's a "heads up" flight or calls for someone to help watch a booster stage or glider pod. Maybe accoasional reminders throughout the day to watch for fires will keep people tuned in. This could also apply to folks waiting in line at the RSO table. That way, folks prepping their rockets can concentrate on that task while those waiting for a pad or waiting to launch keep watch.
Or maybe combine the two ideas I won't stop anyone from volunteering for fire watch duty if they so desire. I might take a turn myself.