CAMP SWIFT, Bastrop County (KXAN) - A very warm April afternoon is the perfect backdrop for local firefighters to train and learn about fighting fires from above, using helicopters.
One by one, choppers picked up 175 gallons from the "water pumpkin," as pilots flew to specific targets.
They all simulate putting out flames in hard-to-reach areas, similar to the challenges in Bastrop County two years ago. They don't put fires out entirely, but they help ground personnel get them to a controllable state so ground crews can get control of a fire scene.
All day, crews from STARFlight, Austin Fire Department, the Texas Forest Service and other local fire departments worked together, so that when real disaster happens, they will be ready.
"They're learning certain things about aviation safety, how to work with and around aircraft, the different types of aircraft, sizes, capabilities and capacities," said Mark Wobus of the Texas Forest Service.
This the first time a wildfire training program took place like this in the air.
After the tragedy in Bastrop, crews are hoping lessons from today will help all of the firefighters and agencies be ready.
"Coming to a training like this allows us to take it back to our individual departments and then pass on that training to the other individuals so we're well educated as a group and working together in a coordinated effort," said Sgt. Von Beals of Emergency Service Districts 4 and 12.
Come this summer there will be four choppers ready to fight fires in Central Texas, but as one firefighter put it, they hope they don't have to use any of them. KXAN news.
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