Classic Air Medical Helicopter To Assist LAFD In Event Of Local Wildland Fire

Los Alamos Fire Department Wildland Fire Division Chief Kelly Sterna prepares for take-off in a Classic Air Medical helicopter flown by pilot Ivan Kubeldis during recent training. Courtesy photo
Aerial view of Los Alamos from the Classic Air Medical helicopter during non-aviation crew member training for LAFD command staff. Courtesy photo
LAFD Safety Division Chief James Thwaits gets ready to fly in a Classic Air Medical helicopter during recent training. Courtesy photo 

Los Alamos Daily Post

Due to the high level of fire danger in the area, Classic Air Medical has offered Los Alamos Fire Department two hours of helicopter flight service for LAFD command staff in the event of a local wildland fire.

Wildland Fire Division Chief Kelly Sterna said today that the helicopter time will be a great asset in the event that LAFD needs to do air reconnaissance.

“In the event of a fire, it would enable us to get additional information to our troops on the ground, allowing us to provide a more efficient response to wildland fire,” he said.

LAFD command staff recently participated in specialized training with Classic Air Medical designed for non-aviation crew members, according to pilot Geoff Rodgers. He stressed that the helicopter will not be used for firefighting, only for fire watch purposes. He said medical flights and search and rescue missions will always take precedence.

The LAFD Type 4 truck and a team comprised of Sterna, Firefighter Tayler Garcia-Anaya and Firefighter Andres Madueno returned late last week from the Bluewater Fire near Grants. That fire, which was caused by an abandoned campfire, has burned some 3,473 acres and is 79 percent contained.

Sterna said LAFD continues to aggressively prepare for the possibility of wildland fire in the area.

Fire Chief Troy Hughes stressed the need for residents to be aware of and closely follow escalating fire restrictions.

“Call in any signs of fire or smoke when you first notice. A little attention on your property can make a huge difference in slowing the spread of fire,” he said.

Chief Hughes recommends that homeowners create defensible space around their property, adding that LAFD personnel will gladly come to local homes to assist in developing a good defensible space plan.