TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Today, Governor Rick Scott directed the Florida National Guard to provide a UH-60 ‘Blackhawk’ helicopter to be placed on standby for potential firefighting missions in Tampa. The aircraft would be flown in support of the Florida Forest Service and will be equipped with the ability to both collect and dispense large quantities of water onto fires without having to land.
Governor Scott said, “As directed by my executive order, our state agencies have been working closely with the Florida Forest Service and our federal partners to determine what resources are needed to fight the increased number of fires across the state. Today I am directing the Florida National Guard to immediately provide resources to help put out forest fires. It is crucial that our firefighters and first responders are able to immediately respond to dangerous wildfires and this helicopter will be an incredibly valuable resource in our fight to protect our communities. We will continue to work closely with our federal, state and local partners to make sure we are doing everything we can to combat these fires and keep our state safe. I ask that all Floridians join my wife Ann and I in praying for the safety of our first responders as they combat these fires.”
Positioning a UH-60 ‘Blackhawk’ helicopter on standby in Tampa will allow National Guard units to activate within minutes and join firefighters and first responders in combatting any ongoing or potential wildfires. The aircraft will be able to dump hundreds of gallons of water onto the flames. Additionally, this will allow the Florida Forest Service to relocate other important aerial resources to different regions of the state to prepared for and respond to wildfires. Yesterday, Governor Scott issued Executive Order 17-120 declaring a state of emergency in Florida following the recent wildfires across the state and the high potential for increased wildfires to continue this year.