Annual fire training in California for National Guard helicopter crews

By John Yount 

This year the annual fire suppression training for California and Nevada Air and Army National Guard helicopter crews was held April 15-17, 2016 near Sutter Creek, California. Chinook, Blackhawk, and Lakota helicopters participated in a mock fire incident using Pardee Lake as a water source.

The Guard is only activated when private sector helicopter operators cannot fill the incident commander’s resource orders for a particular type or mission specific helicopter. Usually the requests are for a Type 1 helicopter, a  Blackhawk or Chinook, that cannot be supplied by the private sector in a reasonable period of time.

national guard helicopter fire traning

The Lakota helicopter is used as a helicopter coordinator platform and for medical evacuation missions. If requested by the incident commander the Lakota can be dispatched with military medics. During the last five decades the Guard assisted on fires in almost every fire season.

national guard helicopter fire traning

The policy of teaming a Guard helicopter with a CAL FIRE military helicopter manager serving as a flight crew member has been a successful program for twenty years. The military manager not only provides tactical fire direction including initial attack on new fires but arranges for complete logistical support.  The manager works closely with a military liaison to make sure the program flows smoothly.

national guard helicopter fire traning

These photos were taken by Bob Martinez, a Volunteer in Prevention Photographer for CAL FIRE. You can see more of his work at his web site.

national guard helicopter fire traning

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Flashback to 2007: Michigan Army National Guard assists with wildfire

In the photo above, the Michigan Army National Guard uses a Bambi Bucket to help firefighters on the ground extinguish a wildfire 10 miles from Tahquamenon Falls State Park, Mich., August 8, 2007. (U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Helen Miller)

National Guard MAFFS and helicopters activated in California

 

California National Guard helicopters
Chief Brockly is interviewed as the California National Guard helicopters are activated. CNG photo.

The two C-130 MAFFS at the Channel Islands National Guard base in California are being activated to help deal with wildfires in the northern part of the state. Earlier today 17 California National Guard helicopters were also activated. More details are at Wildfire Today.

National Guard helicopter training in South Dakota

National Guard helicopter wildfire training

 

Today the South Dakota National Guard Aviation Unit conducted their annual fire certification at Angostura Lake and the Hot Springs Airport. It was coordinated by the South Dakota Wildland Fire Division so that the National Guard Black Hawk helicopters can assist in suppressing wildland fires.

Crews were tested on fire aviation procedures which included dipping buckets attached to helicopters at a water source and accurately dropping the water on a target.

The helicopters used were Blackhawks and a Lakota. It was quite windy during the exercise, increasing the level of difficulty for the crews.

All of the photos were taken by Bill Gabbert.
National Guard helicopter wildfire training

National Guard helicopter wildfire training

National Guard helicopter wildfire training

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