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Austin Police Air Support Completes First Official Firefighting Role

APD's AS350 helicopter fighting a fire.
Joe Fernandez Imaging

The first official firefighting assignment for the Austin Police Department's Air Support Unit was completed today in the nearby town of Lockhart. The small brush fire, which began yesterday, reemerged today with some hot spots. The fire was near highway 183 and close to some homes. Large thick trees and shrubs in the fire zone made it difficult for fire apparatus to enter so the APD was called to help extinguish the remaining hot spots from the air.

The Air Unit's Eurocopter AS350B3 "AStar" patrol helicopter is equipped to carry a fire fighting device known as the "Bambi Bucket" which can be lowered into any body of water such as a lake or pool to pick up water then dropped into the fire. These buckets can carry in excess of 160 gallons of water. They usually load within half minute making for quick turnaround time between drops. Earlier this year, the Bambi was first tested in a nearby lake which also trained the unit's pilots in efficiency flights to get acquainted with the process.

The city of Lockhart called on APD for assistance in this fire. The unit is available to help fire departments in Austin and surrounding cities and counties shall it be necessary. Temperatures in the coming days will be hot and there is still lack of rain from the droughts of the past few years making the brush extremely dry in Central Texas. After a few drops, the flames were completely extinguished and the helicopter continued to its next assignment on a busy day.