Governor Mills Unveils New Helicopter to Fight Forest Fires

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Governor Janet T. Mlils (D), today unveiled the state’s newly acquired Bell 107 helicoper that will be used by the Maine Forest Service (MFS) to fight forest fires and assist in search and rescue missions.  The unveiling happened in Old Town.

The helicopter was purchased this past June and recently arrived at the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry’s (DACF) MFS Aviation Branch headquarters in Old Town.  The helicopter is equipped and ready for service activation this month.

The Legislature approved Governor Mills’ budget request to update the aging arial fleet that MFS relies on to do their work. The helicoper which cost $2.8 mlillion replaces a MFS heicoper that is more than 50 years old.

‘Upgrading the Maine Forest Service’s aging helicoper fleet is an investment in the safety of our forests and our people”, said Governor Mills.  “Maine is one of the most heavily forested states in the nation, which means that we need to be ready on a dime to protect that resource and to assist in search and rescue efforts to save lives.  This new helicopter will help us do just that.

The Forest Protection Aviation Branch flies more than 400 missions per year, transporting firefighters and thousands of pounds of supplies and dropping water on fires.  In 2021, the Maine Forest Service dropped more than 91,000 gallons of waer on fires and carried 269 firefighters.

(Mhn.com found this press release from the Governor’s office especially compelling because for about fifteen years her brother served as a firefighter for the US Forest Service in the west.  For two years, he was based in Cave Junction, Oregon and for thirteen years he was based at the jumper base in McCall, Idaho. In the winter, he was a teacher in New York State.).