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Minnesota National Guard
Army National Guard Hosts Wild Fire Air Display

Minnesota National Guard ST PAUL, Minn- The Minnesota National Guard and the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR) got a chance to share with members of the National Association of Foresters (NASF) what they use to fight wildfires from the air during one portion of the NASF national convention Conventioneers from across the country were able to inspect, walk through and learn about the planes and helicopters Minnesota uses to win the fight against forest fires at the National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility in St Paul, Minn, Sept 25

The NASF is a non-profit organization comprised of the directors of forestry agencies from each state and territory in the US as well as the District of Columbia State foresters manage and protect state and private forests, which encompass two-thirds of the nation's forests

Aircraft on display at the exhibit were unique in what each brought to the firefight Aero Spray Company brought their "Fire Boss" which can drop an initial load of fire retardant and then scoop water from nearby water sources to spread over the fire The DNR brought two of their aircraft used in fire fights The CL 215 Scooper is used for dropping water on fires, and it's Air Attack Platform which is the "eyes in the sky" during an air assault on the fire

The Minnesota Aviation Rescue Team (MART), a partnership between the Minnesota State Patrol and St Paul Fire Department, brought their Bell Long Ranger Helicopter used for rescuing hard to reach people and quickly removing them from danger The Minnesota Army National Guard had both a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter and CH-47F Chinook helicopter on hand as well These helicopters can be used for many purposes during an emergency such as filling a helicopter bucket used to drop large amounts of water on a fire in a short amount of time

"With all the different air craft, everyone got to see the ones they needed to see and not stuck to a strictly guided tour," said Lee Kessler, aviation technician, Minnesota Interagency Fire Center

The event was a great way for Minnesota to show how well it's interagency partnerships work to successfully react to emergencies

"We have a strong state-to-cooperator and federal government-to-cooperator agreement, so it was good to see how all our agencies can work together," said Kessler "Due to our agreements, we don't have to wait the four or five days that it would take us to get the larger aircraft internally, meanwhile that fire is still going It's a great option to be able to get larger vehicles during a fire fight"

Having these interagency partnerships helps streamline the fire fight and the assets needed to successfully battle it

"Our priorities are life, property and resources and when we get these fast moving fires people don't have the time to get out of the fire's way," said Kessler "The size of these vehicles come in pretty handy because they can put out a fire pretty quick One hundred and twenty gallons of water doesn't buy you much time, 2,000 gallons buy you a whole lot"

"When you look at the interagency portion of it you don't want to make contacts at the scene of a disaster, so we train as a team in the state," said Sgt. 1st Class Scott Galeazzi, Minnesota National Guard, Joint Operations Interagency non-commissioned officer

"It's a great day and we are always glad to partner with the Minnesota DNR," said Lt. Col. Shawn Manke, Minnesota National Guard State Army Aviation Officer "They are a great lead agency in the wild fire effort and they help us to train for these types of emergencies, that way, we are always ready to respond when we are needed"
"Being able to host this event showcases our capability and how we work together and what we bring to the fight, the whole team concept," said Galeazzi

Sept 25, 2014
Story and photos by Army Staff Sgt Johnny Angelo
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs

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