DNR Helitack crews ready for fire season

Helitack crews practice water bucket drops at Cle Elum training. Photo: Janet Pearce/DNR

Crews have been training in Cle Elum this week to get ready for the wildfire season. Our summer brings more people into the woods and wildlands, which increases risks of accidental fire starts. DNR firefighters are preparing.

Fighting fires from the air
DNR keeps six 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 remote wildfires while they are small; a safer and more efficient way to put fires out is to suppress them before they grow larger.

Large wildfires pose risks to health, human safety and natural resources – and also

Katie Babcock, 1st year on the Helitack crew, helps roll up the line that hooks to the water bucket. Photo: Janet Pearce/DNR

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 Program on our website.

You can help
Even though DNR Helitack crews are trained and ready for wildfires, we need people to be cautious. Do your part to prevent wildfires this season by following these 5 tips:

  1. Never discharge fireworks on DNR-protected lands
  2. Never use incendiary targets or ammunition on DNR-protected lands
  3. Extinguish your campfire completely, until it’s cool to the touch
  4. Abide by any burn bans that may be in place
  5. Report potential wildland fires or illegal campfires quickly to 911

Another great tip is to create defensible space around homes in the wildland urban interface to help them survive in the event of a wildfire. Go to www.firewise.org for more information.

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