New tool for fighting fires - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

New tool for fighting fires

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The Texas Forest Service has recruited an elite tool when it comes to fighting fire.

"This is the largest of the helicopters for fighting fire. You have the very best at your disposal here and it doesn't get better than this in terms of helicopters and fire suppression," says Crew Chief Rylan Macallister.

Comforting words for East Texans who have spent the last few weeks battling wildfires that have burned more than 100,000 acres just this month.

For this reason, the Texas Forest Service has called in the Erickson Air-Crane Helitanker. Its versatility alone makes it a unique machine.

"We can reconfigure the machine to do construction work or we can do tower lifts, we can do air conditioning units up on top of rooftop towers and skyscrapers... Primarily we use it in firefighting and fire suppression," Macallister says.

He says they work directly with the Texas Forest Service who has a commanders as well as a command center, who will, "logistically move helicopters to where the need is necessary."  

And right now, they are on call here in Tyler, ready to assist our local firefighters whenever needed.

"We are able to get to the fire right away, quickly respond fast and put a lot of water on it initially and that is sometimes the difference of getting away and having a catastrophe," Macallister says.

The tank can hold more than 2,000 gallons and only takes 45 seconds to fill. This system is capable of dropping 30,000 gallons of foam mix, retardant or water on the fire every hour.

"Feel safe that you know this is here. It's going to be a huge help if something happens. We will definitely be here ready to go and we're re on call right now," he says.

On call and ready to attack the flames from above. The crew will remain on call, stationed in Tyler until the Texas Forest Service says they are no longer needed.

Click here to learn more about the helitanker's history.

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