First look: New state-of-the-art firefighting aircraft ready for action

The FIRIS airplane has high-tech equipment that gives fire managers real-time information to dispatch crews and equipment.
BURBANK, Calif. (KABC) -- A state-of-the-art firefighting aircraft is being called a "game-changer" by state officials, and it can't even drop a single gallon of fire retardant.

It's a fixed-wing aircraft equipped with high definition and infrared camera systems that's part of what officials call the Fire Integrated Real-Time Intelligence System, otherwise known as FIRIS.

"This is really a surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft," said Mark Ghilarducci, the director of the California Governor's Office of Emergency Services.

"This has a sensor array on it that we can dispatch this at the notice of a fire to 13,000 feet, and they can essentially, and literally, look at the fire spread as it's happening," he said.

As part of Wildfire Preparedness Month, the fixed-wing aircraft known as "Intel-24" was on display at Hollywood Burbank Airport.

It's one of two FIRIS planes now operating in California all year round.

"They have the ability to run infrared," said Capt. Tim Werle of the Los Angeles City Fire Department. "If it's really smoky and you can't see, we can see right through the smoke and see the fire and where it's going."

The FIRIS program is a new $30 million investment in the state's mutual aid system.

Cal OES said the aircraft is the first of its kind in the nation.

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