by Jason Lamb
Thursday, February 11, 2010
ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Anchorage Fire Department has gotten used to a firefighting helicopter over the last few years, but now it's on the chopping block.
The city is now counting on state money or a new federal grant to keep a helicopter in the air this summer to help with wild fires.
Just behind the firefighter memorial at Merrill Field is where they keep the contracted helicopter during the summer.
But if something isn't done soon, that parking spot might stay vacant this year.
Firefighters say it's a useful tool, especially in getting to outlying areas of the city quickly during dangerously dry summer conditions.
"A lot of those places it takes a long time, and maybe there isn't road service to get to a fire. So it's really valuable there with the bucket drops and buying time for the other crews to get in there," said Anchorage fire union president Tom Wescott.