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compatible lighting. They completed their initial training in April 2001, although they didn’t initially fight fires at night because they had to get comfort- able with the goggles while performing routine night search and rescue opera- tions, as well as Helicopter Emergency Medical Services missions. As a result, when the massive wildfires of 2003 hit Southern California, they didn’t fly any night ops on fires. In 2005, they fought their first fire

Los Angeles County Fire

Department (LACoFD) is the agency which has been using NVG the longest. With 9 firefighting aircraft, including 3 Firehawks (the firefighting version of the military’s UH-60 Blackhawk) they are also the largest air operation per- forming aerial firefighting and rescue operations at night. They converted all of their Bell 412s

to work with NVG and two of their S- 70s came already equipped with NVG-

APRIL 2012

from the air near Palmdale. At the same time, Generation 3 goggles improved, with better brightness control, which reduces the chances that a pilot will be blinded by bright lights. Currently, they are exploring the

possibility of using firefighting foam to extinguish structure fires, or even to pre- treat structures to make them fire resist- ant during an incident, thus freeing up firefighters on the ground to battle the wildfire rather than performing struc- ture protection.



San Diego Fire-Rescue Department

(SDFD) deploys a Bell 212HP (Copter 1) and a newer Bell 412 (Copter 2), both capable of

from Montgomery Field, north of the city. Although

carrying up to 375 gallons, SDFD operates 24/7,

operations slow way down after sunset for safety purposes. They also do hoist rescues and medical transports using NVG. As long as the pilot and crew con- tinue to scan the area for hazards, they feel that the limited viewing area (40°

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