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Police helicopter (Wikimedia Commons)
Police helicopter (Wikimedia Commons)

New in the Israeli Police helicopter wing: Soon the aircraft will also be used to fight fires. The Internal Security Ministry recently published a tender for an upgrade contract for police helicopters, worth hundreds of millions of shekels, with one aim being their adaptation for use during fire fighting operations. These upgraded helicopters will allow both police and fire fighting commanders to conduct joint command flights and direct activities on the ground, this being one of the lessons learned during the Carmel fires.

According to senior fire fighting authority official Eyal Caspi the upgraded helicopters would carry a “water basket”, dropping concentrated loads of up to 1,000 liters of water on one spot. The helicopter would allow fire fighters to quickly reach incident locations all over Israel. Each helicopter would carry six team members, in addition to a rescue basket for saving people trapped high up in burning buildings. According to Caspi fire fighting in open areas involves both planes and helicopters, with planes directly attacking or diverting fires and helicopters dealing with specific spots.

iHLSIsrael Homeland Security

According to the announcement by the Internal Security Ministry the winner of the contract will also provide maintenance services for the helicopters for 15 years, strengthening cooperation between the ministry and the business sector. Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich decided to promote the helicopter upgrades despite budget concerns in order to bring about joint fire fighting and law enforcement operations. The tender is part of the ministry’s efforts to complete the Israeli fire fighting reforms, which include recruiting hundreds of fire fighters and acquiring hundreds of new vehicles.