From Gilze-Rijen Air Base, the military is currently practicing with transport helicopters and the large red water bag 'Bambi Bucket'. You regularly see them flying above Oosterhout. Crews of both the Chinook and Cougar helicopters practice together with the Mobile Air Operations Team (MAOT) and civil partners for successful deployment in extinguishing large (natural) fires.
During the "dry" season, the Defense Helicopter Command is extra alert when it comes to major wildfires. These helicopters, together with those of the North East Gelderland Safety Region, form a specially trained "Fire Bucket Operations Team". This team is jointly deployed in every extinguishing activity involving helicopters of the Royal Netherlands Air Force. The Fire Bucket Operations team works closely with all on-site emergency services under the leadership of the "on scene commander" civilian fire brigade during a deployment.
The red "Bambi Bucket"
More than 30 years ago, the Bambi Bucket, the red bag at the bottom of the helicopter, was conceived and developed by the Canadian Don Arney. More than 115 countries use the Bambi Bucket. The Chinook and Cougar transport helicopters are suitable for this national task. The water bag hanging under the Chinook can carry 10,000 liters of water and the smaller bucket for the Cougar helicopter can carry 2500 liters of water. In order to lift the weight of the full water bags with the fuel tanks completely full, the crew must be extremely careful with the limits of the engines. This requires a lot of skill. To make it a bit easier for the crew, the contents of the Bambi Bucket can be reduced with a belt. It takes approximately 12 seconds to pour 10,000 liters of water from the Bambi Bucket. The efforts of the Fire Bucket Operations Team in the Netherlands over the past year have been of great value in specific and hard-to-reach fires.