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Should Nighttime Water Drops Be Used To Fight Wildfires?

Audio

Aired 4/5/10

A LA Congressman wants the US Forest Service to reconsider how it fights fires on its land. Right now the service doesn’t allow nighttime aerial water drops on wildfires. The city of San Diego started using the practice years ago.

— A LA Congressman wants the U.S. Forest Service to reconsider how it fights fires on its land. Right now the service doesn’t allow nighttime aerial water drops on wildfires. The city of San Diego started using the practice years ago.

The San Diego Fire and Rescue Department does allow its helicopters to drop water on wildfires at night. Spokesman Maurice Luque says fire agencies often debate about the safety of the practice. But he says advances in technology have made night water drops less dangerous.

"We’re using the state-of-the-art technologies that are used in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he says. “The same type of military night vision technology that’s used over in a war zone, we use it here in San Diego.”

Luque says night water drops are restricted to within city limits. But he says the fire department can conducts drops in other jurisdictions if asked. The change to the Forest Service policy could allow for nighttime water drops in San Diego’s Cleveland National Forest.

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