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Helicopter dropping retardant
Forest Service Aviation

The Forest Service uses a variety of aircraft and helicopters to help manage wildfires.

Planes and helicopters are critical tools in managing wildland fire. Although aircraft are often used to fight wildfires, aircraft alone cannot put them out. Firefighters rely on planes and helicopters to:

  • Deliver equipment and supplies.
  • Deploy smokejumpers and rappellers to a fire.
  • Transport firefighters.
  • Provide reconnaissance of new fires, fire locations, and fire behavior.
  • Drop fire retardant or water to slow down a fire so firefighters can contain it.
  • Ignite prescribed fires.

"Water Scooper, Rice Ridge Fire, 2017"


"Helicopter Operations, Rice Ridge Fire, 2017"