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The Times 

DNR Gears Up for Fire Season


OLYMPIA – Washington State Commissioner of Public Lands Hilary Franz and the Department of Natural Resources Wildfire Aviation Aerial Firefighting staff are preparing for the 2018 wildfire fire season.

This year’s fleet consists of nine helicopters and six amphibious single engine air tankers (Fireboss) and twp Air Attacks that are under contract with DNR

More than 60 personnel make up the DNR aviation firefighting staff available for Initial Attack to emerging wildland fires.

DNR’s top aviation priority is Initial Attack. Crews work to get aircraft off the ground and on the way to a fire within five-fifteen minutes of dispatch.

Initial Attack Teams plan in the air using satellite imagery to identify water sources and to plan the safest route between them and the incident. 

During fire season (May 15-October 15), aircraft, equipment and teams are staged throughout the state at locations, such as: Olympia, Omak, Colville, Deer Park, Dallesport, Kelso, Mount Vernon, Ellensburg and Wenatchee.

Aviation crews and equipment fight fire on DNR-protected lands or in collaboration with our wildland firefighting partners, in communities across Washington.

DNR helicopters are aging but well suited and maintained for aerial firefighting. The fleet is made up of 60-year old U.S. Army surplus Bell UH-1H’s that flew during the Vietnam war. Maintenance costs on these nine aircraft is $1,400-$1,600 per flight hour, plus fuel.


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