National Guard to have helicopter on standby for combatting wildfires

Helicopter able to collect, dispense large quantities of water

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Gov. Rick Scott directed the Florida National Guard on Wednesday to have a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter on standby for potential firefighting missions in Tampa.

The office of the governor said the helicopter, which would be flown in support of the Florida Forest Service, would be able to collect and dispense large quantities of water onto fires without having to land.

"Our state agencies have been working closely with the Florida Forest Service and our federal partners to determine what resources are needed to fight the increased number of fires across the state," Scott said. "It is crucial that our firefighters and first responders are able to immediately respond to dangerous wildfires and this helicopter will be an incredibly valuable resource in our fight to protect our communities."

Scott's office said having the helicopter on standby will allow National Guard units to activate within minutes to join in on combatting any wildfires, adding that it will allow the Florida Forest Service to relocate their aerial resources to different regions of the state to prepare for and respond to wildfires.

"We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local partners to make sure we are doing everything we can to combat these fires and keep our state safe," Scott said. "I ask that all Floridians join my wife Ann and I in praying for the safety of our first responders as they combat these fires.”

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