Above: Kern County Fire Department Helicopter 407, a UH-1H. Kern County photo.
Kern County Fire Department (map) has two helicopters, UH-1H’s, outfitted for flying at night to assist firefighters on the ground. One of them assisted on the Tubbs Fire last month, the blaze that eventually destroyed thousands of homes and killed numerous residents.
The Tehachapi News has an article about the Department’s night-flying program. Below is an excerpt.
After the Cedar Fire chewed up hundreds of thousands of acres in 2003, killing 15 people and costing well north of $1 billion, agencies recognized certain policies had to change, and that included implementing night-flying helicopters, said Pat Williams, the Kern County Fire Department’s chief pilot.
Under the FIRESCOPE program, a partnership representing local, rural and metropolitan fire departments, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, and federal fire agencies, guidelines were created for night flying.