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Travis County To Buy $2.4 Million Fire Fighting Helicopter

Flickr user davidhofmann08,

Travis County will spend $2.4 million on a helicopter to fight fires. County commissioners approved the purchase today.

The county already has three EC-145 helicopters, but Danny Hobby with Travis County Emergency Services says this UH-1H helicopter will be different.

“It’s specific to firefighting, which is a great benefit to us," says Hobby. "We found that during the Labor Day fires that we were limited in having [the state's] aircraft available to us, because the entire state was burning up. Now we’re going to have an aircraft available to us that is a fire aircraft.”

The UH-1H helicopter will be a military surplus helicopter that is refurbished in "like new" condition, according to Travis County. The aircraft will have a fixed tank capable of holding up to 350 gallons of water, compared to the detachable 130-gallon bucket in the EC-145s. 

Hobby says they hope to have the new UH-1H in operation by next summer. 

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion-dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at Follow him on X @KUTnathan.
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