Lowndes County Fire Rescue Hosts Training with Georgia Forestry Air Operations Unit
Lowndes County, Georgia: On May 5, Lowndes County Fire Rescue, in conjunction with Valdosta Fire Department and the Valdosta Airport Authority, hosted, joint training with the Georgia Forestry Commission. The course, led by GFC Pilot Kenny Beck, focused on operations using the agency’s two Single Engine Air Tankers or SEAT firefighting aircraft.
The two planes were built by Thrush Aircraft based in Albany, Georgia, and have the capacity to hold 500 gallons of water or fire-retardant suppressant. These can be dumped in two seconds, and also have the capability for a lengthened release or multiple partial releases. This gives pilots the capability to fight fire quickly and help ground units suppress the fire more rapidly.
Participants in the course were instructed on proper ways to approach and operate around the aircraft, how to communicate with the pilots and methods of refilling water tanks on the plane during wildland firefighting operations. Several cycles of drops were made, allowing the pilots to demonstrate the capabilities of the SEAT planes as well as provide hands-on practice for fire personnel in refilling the onboard tank.
“Furthering our knowledge and partnering with other public safety agencies is invaluable to the services we provide to the residents we serve in Lowndes County,” said Lloyd Green, Fire Chief, Lowndes County Fire Rescue.
The Georgia Forestry Commission currently operates two of the SEAT aircraft with one based in Waycross and the other in Macon. In addition to these units, GFC also utilizes one firefighting helicopter and several other “spotter” planes across the state. The Air Operations Unit also assists with post-tornado and natural disaster damage surveys and general aerial assessments of timber and forest health.
For more information on Lowndes County Fire Rescue, visit, www.lowndescounty.com. To learn more about the services of the Georgia Forestry Commission, visit GaTrees.org.