ROUND LAKE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Soldiers from the New York Army National Guard conducted firefighting training at Round Lake Tuesday. Using a so-called Bambi Bucket, crews scooped up and discharged water, exercises designed to prepare for any efforts to combat wildfires.
The annual exercises come as parts of Upstate New York continue to see abnormally dry conditions. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, a majority of the state, including parts of the Capital Region, are at a moderate fire danger.
Per the DEC, a moderate, or blue rating, means fires can start accidentally, but the number of starts is typically low. While certain fires in these conditions can spread quickly, they’re not likely to become serious.
“This training is always at a right time, so that our National Guard members are trained, qualified and ready if the call ever comes,” said Colonel Richard Goldenberg, Public Affairs Officer for the New York Army National Guard.
Crews arrived at Round Lake Airport Tuesday morning, securing the water bucket to their UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. Three crews, with three soldiers each, rotated to become qualified at operating the buckets if needed.
“It’s very important that they understand the unique aspects of lifting, filling and then dropping those water buckets onto a specific point,” Goldenberg explained, noting that carrying a bucket full of water can present different challenges when flying the helicopter.
He went on to explain that Bambi Buckets can offer more precision when fighting wildfires, “As long as there’s a source available, helicopters can make very rapid turns to make additional bucket drops to a specific site.”
Many people at Round Lake Tuesday were excited to catch a glimpse at the exercises, with several people going out onto the lake in boats and kayaks to get a closer look.
“Unbelievable, absolutely unbelievable. To have a chopper above my head is insane, kayaking, I absolutely love it,” said Brian Gerhardt, who was kayaking when the training first began.
The New York Army National Guard last responded to a wildfire in 2018 in Clinton County. Two helicopters helped dump 126,000 gallons of water on a forest fire in Altona that stretched over 500 acres before being contained.