Monday, August 31, 2015
Officials Reviewing Montana Firefighting Fleet Dispute
Aviation officials are reviewing Montana's aerial firefighting procedures in an effort to clear the state's UH-1Hs to aid overloaded fleets battling regional wild land fires. More than 100 fires are burning in Montana and neighboring Idaho, part of what some call the worst U.S. fire season in recent memory. But the U.S. Forest Service has blocked the use of the modified Bell Helicopter Hueys in attacking fires on federal lands because the UH-1Hs' equipment doesn't meet the agency's specifications. State and federal officials have been charged with developing "a plan for operating the state's helicopters as part of coordinated state and federal firefighting operations," according to a joint statement by Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and U.S. Agriculture Department Secretary Tom Vilsack, who oversees the Forest Service.