By Chris Spears

DENVER (CBS4) – Colorado will soon have a new tool to use when fighting wildfires across the state. It’s a state-of-the-art helicopter known as a Sikorsky S70i FIREHAWK® manufactured by United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods Corporation.

The aircraft will have a 1,000 gallon water tank that can be refilled with a retractable snorkel in less than one minute. It’ll also have the capability to transport up to 12 fully equipped firefighters to a fire’s front line. An onboard rescue hoist will be able to rescue firefighters or civilians should they be in need.

(credit: South Metro Fire)

“Following one of the worst fire seasons our state has seen, coupled with the trend of increasing wildfire occurrence and impacts, it is critical to increase the state’s capacity to respond to these incidents,” said DFPC Director Mike Morgan.

(credit: DFPC)

Larry Alexandre, President of United Rotorcraft, adds, “We are incredibly proud to be the exclusive completion center for the FIREHAWK® helicopter, and even more proud to deliver one to our home state. Firefighting and life-saving missions hold a special place within the heart and values of our company. We appreciate the trust that the people of Colorado have put in us, and plan to deliver a product unlike any other.”

When not fighting wildfires, the helicopter will be able to help with other needs around the state, including rockslide and avalanche prevention, wildlife counts and livestock preservation and search and rescue or medical evacuations, such as those experienced during the 2013 floods. The helicopter should be delivered sometime in early 2022 and be ready for use later in the year.

Chris Spears