Los Angeles Fire shows off air power

VAN NUYS, Calif. Last year air operations were used in 44 incidents. Combined, more than one dozen water-dropping helicopters, air cranes and Super Scoopers are on standby. Fire officials say it's so Southern California can have a quick and overwhelming response to a brush fire.

"And the big ingredient that we are so concerned about is the wind, particularly the Santa Ana winds now as the fuel is very dry. And, this is the time of the year when the Santa Ana winds come," said Chief P. Michael Freeman, Los Angeles County Fire Department.

The Arrington air crane is part of the force that is going to battling brush fires this season in Southern California. According to officials, the air crane is expensive. But, they also say the city and the county can't afford to be without it.

"You can't put a price on a life. You can't put a price on a community. And, these firefighting helicopters and aircraft have done more to save property and lives and Los Angeles County and its neighboring counties over the last 10 years than practically anything else other than the firefighters themselves," said Zev Yaroslovsky, Los Angeles County Supervisor.

The choppers are versatile. They won't gather any dust waiting for a fire.

"All of these helicopters respond to ... they're all multi-mission. And, they respond to a variety of incidents such as brush and grass fires, search and rescue incidents out in the Santa Monicas and the also many air ambulance incidents," said Battalion Chief Joe Foley, Los Angeles City Fire.

The city and county are spending millions to maintain the fleet.

Residents who live in fire-prone areas are asked to do their part by clearing the brush. Officials say this will give firefighters, both on the ground and in the air, a chance to protect residents' property.


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