AIR AT­TACK

How firefighti­ng is co­or­di­nated from the sky.

The Saratogian (Saratoga, NY) - - LIFE+TIMES - By KURT SNIBBE | South­ern Cal­i­for­nia News Group

BUSY SKIES

If air-traf­fic con­troller is one of the most stress­ful jobs and firefighti­ng is one of the most dan­ger­ous, then you get an idea of what it’s like to be an air tac­ti­cal group su­per­vi­sor. Air­craft that douse flames with wa­ter and bright red Phos-Chek fire re­tar­dant are a com­mon sight in Cal­i­for­nia. Aerial firefighti­ng re­quires mu­nic­i­pal, county, state and fed­eral agen­cies to com­mu­ni­cate as a unit on the ground and in the air. Fire Capt. David Hud­son has been an air at­tack group su­per­vi­sor for 2.5 years and is based at Hemet-Ryan Air­port’s air at­tack base, which de­ploys air­craft to fires from the Pa­cific Ocean to the Colorado River. Hud­son says, “Cal Fire has air bases strate­gi­cally lo­cated so air­craft can reach a fire in 20 min­utes af­ter a call.” When above a fire, Hud­son sits in the back of an OV-10 Bronco and co­or­di­nates with the ground com­man­der on a strat­egy to get ahead of the fire and man­age all the air­craft en­ter­ing the fire zone. “The doz­ers and guys on the ground put the fire out. Our job is to try and get ahead of the fire and box it in,” Hud­son says.

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