Health and Fitness

Colorado to use night-vision helicopters to fight wildfires

LONGMONT, Colo. (KDVR) — With a busy hearth season already underway, Colorado firefighters are getting ready to add one other merchandise to their toolbox: night-vision-equipped helicopters.

Vince Welbaum is the state’s Aviation Unit chief and confirmed these particulars on Tuesday. Welbaum stated two state-owned helicopters at the moment are geared up with night-vision goggles — a know-how referred to as NVG — and the state’s new FireHawk helicopter arriving later this 12 months might be geared up as properly. 

“We’ve been training to fly at night with our one helicopter for the last three years, and now we both have them set up with NVG,” Welbaum stated. “We’re hoping we can move forward with that on the helicopter side this year.”

It comes lower than a 12 months after an air tanker pilot was killed combating a wildfire at night time exterior of Estes Park. That firm, CO Fireplace Aviation, was on a first-of-its-kind mission combating fires at night time in Colorado with a fixed-wing plane.

These operations have since been halted statewide.

“We’re not going down that path, with the fixed-wing, just yet,” Welbuam stated.

Welbaum stated helicopters supply extra management, however he burdened they’ll solely be used when circumstances are proper for security.

“If it’s just out there on a forest that’s just going to burn trees, there’s no need to add that additional risk for flying at night,” he stated.

The Colorado Division of Fireplace Prevention and Management stated night time operations will solely happen in sure conditions the place properties are threatened or if persons are at risk.

Officers say they used night-vision firefighting with a helicopter on one hearth in 2021 and had success.

“It’s really kind of a unique situation for night flying,” Welbaum stated. “It’s got to be the right conditions.”

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