Firefighting unit puts out its first fire
19 May 2011 , 11:03
First operational training of the firefighting unit. Archive photo: IDF Spokesperson
The IAFs Firefighting Unit was called on to put out its first fire on Wednesday (May 18), when national firefighting forces on the ground could not enter the mine field in which the fire erupted

IDF Website

The IAFs firefighting squadron, inaugurated into the army just last week, carried out an operation for the first time on Wednesday morning (May 18), in which it helped stop a fire in a mine field in Tel Katzir (northern Israel). The squadron was called to the scene as firefighting crews on the ground could not enter the mine field.

Lt. Col. Rami, commander of the unit, said at 13:30 the unit was called on and ultimately covered approximately 99 acres, its planes flying over the area eight times in the span of three hours and a half.

It was only over the past few weeks that the units personnel were given their positions to head the firefighting squadron, the squadron set to operate in the event of a field fire. As such, two extensive training exercise were recently held in which cooperation between the units personnel was tested with the help of national firefighting forces and the Jewish National Fund.

Decisions regarding its first operational activities are and the way in which planes will be incorporated into firefighting efforts is done in close cooperation with people from national firefighting forces, Jewish National Fund personnel, Israel Nature and Parks Authority, officials working to operate the force and personnel from the Operations Brigade of the IDFs Operations Branch.

The planes will be split up out between two main fields, in the North and the South and will be on high alert, ready for takeoff in 15 minutes. The units plane was built by the Air Tractor company, its main purpose being aerial firefighting. The plane has one, powerful engine and is able to take off and land at sea or on bodies of water and to pump water as it lands. The planes hull has a volume of three tons and holds flame retardant chemicals. 

The planes land rotation time is very quick, its average time between landing and takeoff after filling water less than ten minutes. The plane is equipped with a computer for optimal water and chemical dispersal according to the size of the fire and operational needs and is able to divide water dispersal over a few flights. Due to its high speed and how fast it could be filled, the planes could get to the region of the fire quickly and carry out thorough and efficient work.

The first operation of the Israeli Air Forces Firefighting Unit