NEWS | Aug. 25, 2020

Colorado National Guard supports wildland fire response with aerial fire suppression capabilities

By Colorado National Guard Public Affairs CONG, TAG

FOR RELEASE: Tuesday, August 25, 2020

CONTACT: Colorado National Guard Public Affairs,

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – Gov. Jared Polis authorized the Colorado National Guard to assist the State Emergency Operations Center and incident commanders at various fires across the state with aerial fire suppression capabilities.

At the SEOC's request, two Colorado Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and one CH-47 Chinook helicopter, equipped with water buckets, will assist wildland firefighters and stage at the helibase near Kremmling, Colorado, 15 miles west of Granby.

“Our aviators conducted water bucket operations at Chatfield Reservoir in preparation for fire season,” State Army Aviation Safety Officer U.S. Army Col. William Gentle said. “The ability to train together with our partners has helped build a common operating picture across multiple organizations for a quick and coordinated response.”

The Black Hawk is capable of carrying and delivering nearly 500 gallons of water at a time while the Chinook can carry about 2,000 gallons.

A Black Hawk from the High-Altitude Army National Guard Aviation Training Site in Gypsum, Colorado, is standing by and is equipped with a hoist that can help to provide medical evacuation assistance, if there is a need.

HAATS provides power management training in Colorado's mountainous terrain to rotary-wing military helicopter pilots from around the world. HAATS aircrews have helped ground rescue teams save nearly 500 people from Colorado's mountain ranges since the unit's inception in 1986.

CONG forward refuelers are positioned at the helibase to support helicopter operations. The addition of a forward refueling point will keep the aircrews flying by saving more than 30 minutes during refueling. The crews can refuel without shutting down or flying to a more distant airport.

The SEOC also requested CONG provide about 30 Soldiers to establish 24/7 traffic control points to assist the Larimer County Sheriff. These Soldiers are helping law enforcement officers with traffic control for the Cameron Peak Fire, burning west of Fort Collins, Colorado.

The CONG's Mobile Testing and Training teams are also available to provide COVID-19 testing to wildland firefighters.