An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : News : Article View
NEWS | April 25, 2023

Rhode Island Guard Battles Brushfires from the Air

By Officer Candidate Deirdre Salvas, Joint Force Headquarters - Rhode Island National Guard

EAST GREENWICH, R.I. – Aircrews operating two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from 1-126th Aviation Regiment, Rhode Island Army National Guard, provided aerial firefighting support at large-scale brush fires in the Big River Management Area in West Greenwich April 12 and 14.

The effort marked the first time the aviation regiment was asked to help battle a wildfire. Nearly 1,000 acres burned before the fires were contained.

Col. John MacDonald, the State Army Aviation Officer for the Rhode Island Army National Guard, said the aviation unit received three firefighting buckets in September as part of the National Guard Bureau’s initiative to expand aerial firefighting capability nationally.

“Following receipt of the buckets, the aircrews trained on the operational and technical aspects of the bucket, power management, its limitations with the helicopter, and the employment of the bucket with a fire,” he said.

Using the buckets, which hold 660 gallons of water, the Guard dropped nearly 50,000 gallons of water over two days.

“They also received training from the Rhode Island Department of Environment Management on the anatomy of wildfire and wildland firefighting that was tailored to using” the new bucket capability, MacDonald said. “This experience established best practices, standardized terminology, and rehearsed aerial firefighting techniques between RING and DEM.”

MacDonald said the aircrews were called to help fight the brush fires in West Greenwich and Exeter nearly a month after the training.

“They’re now operating as a fire bucket team in one of the largest wildfires in Rhode Island’s history,” he said. “The success of the aircraft would not be possible without the previous training events with DEM Forestry.”

Chief Warrant Officer 3 Matthew Ryan, an instructor pilot from the 1-126th Aviation Regiment, said the Guard was happy to assist the local communities.

“While a majority of training as military pilots focuses on tactics in combat environments, the most fulfilling part is when we’re able to apply our training to help those in the communities we’re part of,” Ryan said.

The Rhode Island National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment, General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB), is headquartered in North Kingstown at the Quonset National Guard Base. 

The 1-126th provides command and control, air movement of troops and material, and aeromedical evacuation to battlefield commanders. Members of the 1-126th also provide search and rescue, evacuation and air movement capabilities to Rhode Island during state emergencies.



Related Articles
U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Jacob Sorensen, crew chief, Golf Company, 2nd Battalion, 211th General Support Aviation Battalion, Utah National Guard, on an HH-60M Black Hawk helicopter during annual wildland firefighting training in Sacramento, Calif., April 22, 2023. California, Utah, Nevada and Wisconsin National Guard members participated in the training with CAL FIRE.
Cal Guard, CAL FIRE Team up for Wildland Firefighting Training
By Sgt. Marla Ogden, | May 2, 2023
SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California National Guard members participated in annual wildland firefighting training alongside the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection near Ione April 23.The training, composed of...

A Wisconsin Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk aircrew with the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, trains to drop water on wildfires April 10, 2023, using a bucket at Fort McCoy, Wis.
Wisconsin Army Guard Conducts Aerial Firefighting Training
By Scott Sturkol, | April 13, 2023
FORT MCCOY, Wis. - Wisconsin Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk aircrew members with the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment, trained to drop water on wildfires April 10 while the Fort McCoy-prescribed burn team...