Learning to Fight Fires from Above

Learning to Fight Fires from Above
By: Arnold Wyrick
Williamson County, IL - Fighting forest fires is much different then fighting a structure fire and getting fire fighting gear into firefighters is much more difficult. Firefighters from Missouri, Kentucky, Illinois, and Indiana are in Southern Illinois are learning how to fight fires from above.
Their week long training session will teach them everything they need to know in utilizing a helicopter to fight fires.
"We really wouldn't be able to do that without this type of training. It makes the firefighters more safe. And it helps make the pilot and crew safe as they're doing their jobs," says Firefighter Scott Crist of the Shawnee National Forest.
As crews weigh all the gear, they check and recheck all of the ropes and cables that will attach their equipment to the chopper. A process that will leave little room for error. Because a load of gear dropped any where else other then where the firefighters are can be costly.
"There's a national shortage for people that are experienced with helicopters, and working around helicopters. So this is beneficial for the nation. Especially when there's an emergency," says Firefighter Leslie Smith of Land Between the Lakes.
The methods the firefighters learn will also be used to help control growth in the national forest.
"A lot of times it'll be able to get out to some of the areas that aren't accessible by roads, as we'd like for it to be in the case of a fire. Plus we can start doing ignition starts with the helicopter in some of our prescribed burn areas," says Monica Neal of the U.S. Forest Service.
Once the firefighters are certified with the helicopter long line course, they could be sent to anywhere in the nation, to fight wildfires.