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CAL FIRE Not Considering Flying At Night

Audio

Aired 8/11/10

Fire season is heating up but CAL FIRE is not considering reversing its ban on nighttime water drops. The agency believes its equipment is too old to do the job safely.

— Fire season is heating up but CAL FIRE is not considering reversing its ban on nighttime water drops. The agency believes its equipment is too old to do the job safely.

CAL FIRE’s fleet of 11 single-engine helicopters date back to the Vietnam era. The agency first acquired them in 1981, then put bigger engines on them in 1990.

CAL FIRE spokesman Daniel Berlant said the helicopters aren’t suitable for flying at night.

“And until we’re able to replace them with twin-engine helicopters, public safety, safety for ground crews and the safety of our pilots really is top-priority over being able to fly at night,” he said.

Berlant said the governor has put money in the past several state budgets to begin replacing the CAL FIRE helicopters, but it always gets removed by the legislature. Locally, the San Diego Fire and Rescue Department has an agreement with CAL FIRE to do nighttime water drops under certain conditions.

The U.S. Forest Service is currently considering lifting its ban on night time drops.

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