A Kern County FD night-flying helicopter assisted last month on the fires in Northern California

Kern County FD Helicopter 407 UH-1H

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.

One thought on “A Kern County FD night-flying helicopter assisted last month on the fires in Northern California”

  1. Night Fireline Report on Effectiveness: A Fire Captain directing a Cal Fire camp (inmate) crew was supported by the Kern County F.D. after sunset water dropping helicopter gave this account. This Captain is not easily impressed. He has an extensive back ground with several agencies, Los Angeles County Fly Crew, Bear Divide Hot Shot, CDF Helitack and host of other positions. This is his response. Well into the night several Cal Fire crews were attempting to build fire line to secure a portion of the fire. The fire was actively burning in heavy brush with flame lengths over 20 feet, true hot line. The arrival of KCFD night copter arrived and without hesitation picked up on what the Cal Fire crews where attempting to accomplish. Delivering water drops (every few minutes) to support the crew, most of the energy of the burning brush was eliminated. His words (Captain) “effective and very impressive.”

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