COLONIE, NY -- A New York Army National Guard UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter crew successfully tested the state\'s Firehawk firefighting system Wednesday, Aug. 4, in the Mohawk River near the Colonie Town Park.

The Firehawk system consists of a 1000-gallon tank and spray apparatus that fits beneath a Blackhawk helicopter and can be filled with a pump system and hose from a river or lake in 60 seconds.

It is able to drop all or just part of its water payload. It can also be filled with other types of fire-retardant material such as foam.

The landing gear of the Blackhawk must be modified to accomodate the system.

A flight crew from Army Aviation Support Facility 3 at the Albany International Airport in Latham spent about an hour filling the tank from the Mohawk and then practicing emptying it near Mud Island.

The training was part of the New York Army National Guard's annual preparation to respond to requests for assistance in fighting forest and brush fires from state and local officials.

In April 2008 two New York Army National Guard helicopters and 20 Soldiers assisted in controlling wildfires at Minnewaska State Park in the Hudson Valley. The Firehawk system was also loaned to the state of California to assist the California National Guard in its fire fighting misson in 2008.

The Firehawk system has been in the New York National Guard's aviation inventory since 2004 to assist local fire-fighters and the Department of Environmental Conservation to control wildfires in NY State.

Page last updated Wed August 4th, 2010 at 00:00