Getting In The Fire

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They are called the Big Hill Helitack Module because they are the first among fire fighter's to get an up close look inside a helicopter that will drop them quicker and closer to a fire.
The crew operates out of the El Dorado National Forest in California, but will respond to wildfires across the region.
This weekend, Tom Crawford with the Sierra Front Overhead Team, says they are training in Carson City.
"The technology looks to be much more effective in getting fire fighter's on the fire line much more quickly. The hover time for a helicopter is much less than if the fire fighter's had their repelling gear on and had to repel out of the helicopter."
That is what makes this helicopter special, says fire fighter Donna Breton.
If fire fighter's save the time it takes to repel down a rope, and instead just do a "quick slide" down... their job starts earlier and is quite a bit safer.
"The repellers are hooked in with a genie, we aren't. They have to get 180-feet, I think is there limit, and so they have to go down 130-feet, unhook the genie, and then go. We do 30-feet, hit the ground and we're out."
With thousands of acres already burned across Nevada and the western US, fire officials are predicting an intense wildfire season.
The state is already limited without the availability of the Army Guard's Chinook helicopters currently deployed in Afghanistan.
Officials say having this capability could make a difference at combating large wildfires.
"It's going to come into big play. It's going to cut the time because usually what we'll do is fly around. We'll see the fire, and look for a flat spot to land. This way we don't necessarily need to land. We can get as close to the fire, as we can safely, and drop the crew."
When all local and regional resources are exhausted when a wildfire breaks out, a request is filed with a central coordinating center in Idaho.
The center breaks down the intensity of each fire compared to the necessary resources when deciding what teams and equipment are sent.