Are you looking for something fun to do on FSX or P3D? Maybe some firefighting missions with your friends? FireFighter X may be what you're looking for.
FireFighter X allows you to config fire scenarios and play them, allowing you to fight these fires by dropping either water or retardant on them.
These are not missions but actual dynamic fires created by the software, that grow over time and can get out of control if you don't attack them the right way. Fires will behave differently depending on the location and weather and, while flying overhead, you'll feel the updraft.
First things first.
Inside the downloadable 83MB zip you'll find 5 files: 4 of them will allow you to install FireFighter X in FSX, FSX: Steam Edition, Prepar3D 2.5 and Prepar3D 3.x. The other one is the installation manual.
There's not much to it, actually. Double-click the correct file and off you go. And yes, you can use it on both FSX and P3D in the same machine if, for any reason, you need to use both sims.
Starting your firefighter career
Like I said before, you can use both water and retardant. The later allows you to perform drops on locations you want to prevent the fire to expand to. You can configure your runs and indicate the amount of water/retardant you want to release (25%, 50%, 75% or all) as well as the speed at which the drop is made. There are other settings you can tweak around as well as to make your runs more realistic.
In fact, there's a lot of stuff you can tweak and configure. Too many to go through them all! But you can tweak pretty much everything you may ever need.
You can use any aircraft in your hangar. Do note that the model will not display anything special like a bambi bucket unless your aircraft has one already. FireFighter X does not add anything to your aircraft except the ability to drop water/retardant, which is shown by an effect, coming down from the aircraft.
Does it take away from realism? It may if you are really into seeing the outside of your aircraft a lot. To me, it doesn't.
You can set up your aircraft load and change it in real time. Everything you'll do can be immediately tested and you can save your settings. This allows for a speedy way to get your fleet ready for action.
By default, FireFighter X adds 3 fires in random locations at a distance between 5nm and 20nm. You can also design your own fires, edit, delete, save and load them.
Designing the fires is easy and you can set areas with small, medium, big and huge fires or burnt areas, which, in the editor, are squares. You can add them in order to make bigger fires and have them laid out the way you want them to be.
One thing that I wish we could do was to design the fires on top of a map. Right now, we can't have that much detail of the area to "draw" fires perfectly in the area. It's still good enough to allow you to make good scenarios.
Refilling your tanks
You have 3 ways of refilling your water tanks. You can do it using the software's interface (not as realistic, of course), you can use the refill station (which is usually placed near you when you start a session) or you can hover above a water bed and wait for the tanks to get filled. Again, there are no animations or other special additions to your aircraft. The refill station will appear as a model (a truck or a propane tank, for example) but nothing else.
To be able to refill over water, you need to be hovering at 6ft or less (this can be altered on the settings). You can alter this setting. As you can alter the distance at which you need to be from the refill station in order for FireFighter X to acknowledge you are in range for refilling.
The only downside of this system has to do with the fact that you need to hit the parking brakes when you land near the refill station so that FireFighter X refills your tanks. In most helicopters, that means editing your aircraft.cfg and adding the following lines:
Again, you can use FireFighter X's interface to fill your tanks so you can still land by the refill station and do that if you don't want to go through the hassle of editing your files.
Another (very) cool feature of FireFighter X is the ability to perform multi-player sessions even with different sims. Along with the folks from the British Columbia Wildfire Service, I've been doing some tests and we have some guys using P3D and me using FSX. It works pretty well although we see each other at different altitudes. When land I see the P3D folks buried on the ground and they see me hovering some 6ft up in the air.
We suspect it has to do with how P3D and FSX handle scenario and we're reporting it to the author to see if it's possible to get it fixed.
Regarding other pilot's models, we can set up what models will replace the ones from the other folks if we don't have the aircraft in use. While this is handy I would like to have a way to set a model for helicopters and other for fixed-wing. As it is right now, you cannot do that so you'll see everyone with the same model.
We also found a bug with this system: although we can force models to display for specific players, the program keeps reverting them to the default aircraft, which is quite a bummer. It's not enough to ruin a session but it's a bummer, nonetheless.
FireFighter X is extremely fun. It's an amazing piece of software that goes a long way and will provide you with hours of entertainment in FSX and P3D, either alone or with a group of friends.
This is one of those pieces of software that, as far as I know, it's not very well-known. It's a real hidden gem and I hope more people give it a try in order to support the author. I would love to see it extend, improve and, maybe someday, also get into X-Plane.
Laminar Research, you REALLY should support this guy and give him the tools to work with their sim.
- Adds another layer of fun to both FSX and P3D
- Highly customizable
- Allows for multiplayer sessions without the need of extra software
- There are some bugs that could be ironed out
- The interface can be a bit confusing sometimes
- It requires you to add parking breaks to helicopters
Please note: the link above was either provided by the author of the product, the store that sent us the review copy or a personal choice of the article writer. It does not, in any way, indicate an endorsement of HeliSimmer.com to the website hereby linked.