DNR helitack program gears up for quick, efficient, and safe suppression of wildfires

DNR Helitack crews are ready for wildfire season after training in Cle Elum last week. Photo: Janet Pearce
DNR Helitack crews are ready for wildfire season after training in Cle Elum last week. Photo: Janet Pearce

Have you noticed the media coverage recently buzzing about DNR’s Aviation and Helitack (helicopter-attack) Program? Both Yakima Herald and KAPP TV featured the program in stories over the past week.

Crews have been training in Cle Elum to get ready for the Fourth of July weekend. The long holiday weekend brings more people into the woods and wildlands, which increases risks of accidental fire starts. DNR firefighters want to be prepared.

Fighting fires from the air
DNR keeps seven helicopters staffed and ready to go each day throughout the state’s lengthy fire season. The specially trained crews are transported by helicopter into remote and rugged areas to fight wildfires. They are an important part of the DNR fire program because they can get to wildfires while they are small; a safer and more efficient way to put fires out is to suppress them before they grow into massive wildfires.

Large wildfires create a huge risk to health, human safety, and natural resources, but they also cost exponentially more to suppress as they grow in size. Since Helitack crews can be off the ground and enroute to a fire within five minutes of dispatch, they are a vital part DNR’s fire program. By using Helitack crews, we can more quickly and more effectively contain wildfires throughout the state.

Learn about the history and training of the DNR Aviation and Helitack Program on our website. Check out photos of crews in action, and find out what it takes to get one of these jobs.

Helitack crews train and prepare for wildfire season by July 4 Holiday. Photo: Janet Pearce
Helitack crews train and prepare for wildfire season by July 4 Holiday. Photo: Janet Pearce

You can help
Even though DNR Helitack crews are trained and ready for wildfires, we need people to be extremely cautious this holiday weekend and for the rest of the summer. Do your part to prevent wildfires this season by following these tips:

  • Never discharge fireworks on DNR-protected lands
  • Extinguish your campfire completely until it’s cool to the touch
  • Report any fire to 800-562-6010
  • Create defensible space around your home to help protect it from wildfire. Go to www.firewise.org for more information.

 

 

 

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