Maine Forest Service: Part 2
Members of the Maine Forest Service are well trained to execute a variety of missions, but it doesn’t come without hard work.Maine forest rangers take part in a fourteen week ranger academy. They also have a six month rigorous training session. When hired, they’re on probation for a year.”So we’d like to think we’re quite confident in saying that our rangers are some of the best trained in the country when it comes to wildfires response, natural resource law enforcement and disaster response as well.”Physical training is a big part of ensuring this.”Because the job is very demanding. You’ll see us having to hike long distances, carrying heavy loads on our backs and sometimes in very hostile conditions.”Many of those heavy loads involve the standard kit on each helicopter.”It consists of a small portable pump, 600 feet of hose, plus an assortment of fittings and accessories.”Another part of the kit, the bucket the helicopter uses to drop water over a fire site.”For this Bell 407, it carries 210 gallons. In that capacity that provides quick knock down so while we’re setting up a pump and getting the hose laid out, the pilot can be dropping water.”They also have helpful tools they carry with them. during their training session, the pilot was having a hard time seeing the smoke.”What we used was a mirror and the reflection of the mirror gave the pilot a clear indication of where I was standing.”They are always aware of the fatigue factor, knowing that decisions can be altered when it sets in.”We try to adhere to a 2 to 1 work-rest ratio. But some of our work days may be 12 to 16 hours when we’re on a fire often times.”The Forest Service has a great safety record. The division has four aviation mechanics that provide maintenance services from the Old Town air operations facility.The rangers have the final onsite authority and responsibility for all wildfires statewide.In the unorganized territories of the state, which account for forty-four percent of Maine’s land area, the forest service is the only fire suppression entity.