Annual Aerial Firefighting Training Heats Up at Camp Guernsey 🔥🔥🔥

(upbeat rock music) – Yeah, so today we’re doing our annual aerial wildfire exercise. And this is kind of a joint
exercise that we do every year, between our UH-60 Black Hawk
pilots down with Cheyenne, and then we do that with our
Camp Guernsey Fire Department here up at Camp Guernsey. And so, this is an exercise
that started back in 2013. It was really just and opportunity to get two entities that were doing training for their certifications,
and bring them together so that way they could
learn to work together in the event that we ever
actually had another fire at Camp Guernsey. – [Man On Radio] Negative. Fire streamers to your
like, one o’clock right now. We’re looking for that road. – So back in 2013 is when I came to Camp Guernsey Army Airfield. And I’d noticed that the
folks down at the ASF were doing an annual certification, where they were getting
their pilots trained up for the potential fire season, and they’re operating mostly
out of the Pole Mountain area. And then we also noticed
that, hey, coincidentally our Camp Guernsey
firefighters were also doing an annual certification
up here, doing fires. And we just happened to have
an opportunity where we had a lot of areas where we
needed to do controlled burns. So what better opportunity
to do an actual, real, controlled burn fire with
smoke, guys on the ground, coordinating with pilots
that overfly the area. We know it’s inevitable
that these two entities will eventually work together. So it really just started off with, hey, why don’t we get together
and make this happen? And we were able to do
that with great success. And then so, every year since then, we’ve tried to build on that success, and make this an annual exercise. And so, some of the
ways that it is built is that we’re looking to
validate the response time in the event that we had a fire and we needed to bring
an aircraft up here. Well, how long does it take
for that aircraft to respond so we know to plan those standby missions? And so that was like the next step. And it gave us the
opportunity to go, okay, well, we know that if they’re
on a standby mission, we can expect water on
fire in this amount of time and validate that. So, that was great for
our decision makers, down in Cheyenne, to determine whether or not
an aircraft needed to be on standby with identified crews, aircraft ready to go in the event that we’re doing higher-risk
missions with artillery. And of course, it also gives
us the added capability, is that with Wyoming being a
high-risk fire danger area, especially with some of the type of training missions that we do, we wanna mitigate that
risk as best we can. One of the great things in
working at Camp Guernsey is we also live here
in the local community, and we wanna make sure
that we’re good stewards of our neighborhood. So by practicing on this annually, and ever increasing our capabilities, and ability to work together, we’re mitigating that risk, with all the missions that we do here. One of the things that’s
really great about this year is that we’re also working
with some different agencies, outside agencies. Camp Guernsey Fire Department is part of a mutual-aid agreement in the area. In the event that we do
have a wildland fire, where we need to call in as
many folks as we can to help. So this year we’ve invited them
out to participate as well, so they can be part of
that Camp Guernsey team. So this is kind of a
dual-hatted thing really. So our firefighters that are on the ground are getting hands-on experience, they’re having exchange of that training with the mutual aid fire
departments and getting real-world, wildland firefighting experience today. And then of course our pilots, as part of their annual certification, they’re getting the
experience in the aircraft. And so this is one of
those perishable skills that we need to learn every year, where we’re operating the fire bucket, we’re pulling water out of the lake. There’s a lotta crew coordination that happens inside of the aircraft between the pilots and the
crew members in the back. One of the things that
people don’t realize is the pilot’s in the front. When we hover over a lake to
pull water out of the lake, we can’t see that bucket. So everything is crew coordination, as far as maneuvering that
aircraft to a safe location where we can pull water out. It’s all verbal and commands, and it really takes an entire
team to pull that water out of the lake. And then when you are pulling that water out of the lake with that aircraft, that aircraft is operating at
the most extreme conditions. And you’re really asking
everything out of that aircraft, performance-wise, to do that safely. And then once you get
that aircraft underway, then the communication is going between us in the air
and those on the ground, and that’s where that
certification comes from. So there’s certain types of commands that, between us on the ground and in the air, to get that water exactly
where they need it. The last thing we wanna
do is waste resources. So it’s really a combined effort. A lot of communication, crew coordination, and that’s really where we’re
getting certified today. (helicopter blades whir) I think this is so important because you get a lot out of this. Not just the check the
blocks certification, but really you get the confidence in your ability to do the job. You’re building confidence
in the equipment. You’re building confidence as a team. To be able to respond to
these type of situations. And I think most importantly, and this is one of the reasons why I love the Army National Guard, is because, as I mentioned before,
we’re all community members. We don’t just work here, and serve here. We also live here. And so in the event that we
ever actually, God forbid, have a fire that we have to respond to, we now have the confidence and the tools, and the capability, to
respond for our communities. And I think that’s really the bottom line, the most important thing here, is the ability to serve and respond to these types of unfortunate
situations that happen. (bright pop music)

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