US Army Reserve unit, A Company, 2-238th Aviation Regiment, 11th Aviation Command conducted water bucket training in support of California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) tactical air operations in Hemet, California, this February.
The training conducted in partnership with CAL FIRE was designed to enable the unit to provide support in fighting wildfires. During the training, the Army Reserve UH-60L Black Hawk helicopters each carried a CAL FIRE captain in flight to provide guidance and were guided by a CAL FIRE helicopter, to simulate the flight routine for fire suppression. This routine includes two Black Hawk helicopters dipping a water bucket into a reclaimed water storage pond, filling it with 1,000 gallons (3,800 l), flying around and dumping the water back into the pond, then repeating the process.
The soldiers also received classroom instruction with explanations of the fire traffic area around a wildfire and how air operations and communications work, how to use a fire protection shelter and sand table exercises, which provide a model of the operating area of the exercise.
The Army Reserve noted that California remains in a four-year drought, which extends firefighting operations throughout all seasons and requires the return of water used for training to the source.