Helicopter operations for the Wyoming State Forestry Division are conducted primarily by a type III helicopter under an exclusive use contract.
Background and Operations:
Wyoming State Helitack, a fire crew with the Wyoming State Forestry Division, has been involved in emergency services since 2004. It was staffed as an initial attack, exclusive use helicopter for fire suppression and all risk emergencies throughout the State of Wyoming. The program staff consists of multiple firefighters, a pilot and mechanic. The aircraft used currently is Bell 407HP, type III helicopter. The vendor also provides a fuel truck, which supplies support for any maintenance procedure. The helibase is located at Duncan Ranch. The ranch is comprised of a contiguous block of 6,439 acres of deeded State land with some BLM, private inholding and Converse County Park lands. This is a working cattle ranch which lies within two mountain valleys on the northern flank of the Laramie Range. Duncan Helibase is approximately six miles south east of Glenrock, WY and equal distant between Douglas and Casper, WY. The program has completed fourteen operational seasons since inception.
Wildfire suppression makes up approximately 90% of the missions. Everyone on the staff has a large responsibility keeping the helicopter program fire ready and the helibase in top condition. This includes but is not limited to: rehabilitation to fire equipment, performing a variety of project work, participating in physical training, and fire suppression training. The crew this year was made up of four Wyoming State Forestry personnel, one U.S.F.S. employee and a rotational BLM employee; a true interagency program. There is also opportunity for other agency personnel to detail with crew as qualified helicopter crew members, managers or trainees. Following the proper helicopter policies and regulations, establishes the frame work to safe and cost effective and efficient helitack operations. With safe operations, and continued support, the Wyoming State Helitack will continue to provide rapid response in the emergency service community.
FIRE MANAGEMENT ACTIVITIES: The majority of helicopter flight time is used for fire management. This includes fire suppression and logistical support of wildfires, aerial ignition and support of management ignited fires.
SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS: The second major use of helicopter flight time is used for search and rescue operations (SAR). The helicopter can be used for support of SAR’s for Federal, State and local government agencies.
RESOURCE MANAGEMENT: The helicopter can be used to support resource management projects. These projects are widely varied but include such activities as wildlife observation, wildlife management, radio repeater maintenance, seeding, or transport of building materials or personnel.
ADMINISTRATIVE TRAVEL: On occasion helicopters are used for administrative purposes such as orientation and reconnaissance, site visits, or transport of personnel to remote locations.
How Wyoming Residents Benefit:
Rapid initial attack response reduces the chances of large, expensive and catastrophic fires
Increase in number of trained firefighters
Provide low cost aviation resource to local fire departments and other government agencies
The helicopter and crew are available for all risk emergency management calls
Helitack crews provide fire prevention and other multiple benefit project work when not engaged in fire suppression
Christopher Fallbeck Program Manager
Assistant Fire Management Officer