Governor Janet Mills today, Aug. 23, unveiled the State’s newly acquired Bell 407 helicopter that will be used by the Maine Forest Service to fight forest fires and assist in search and rescue missions. The helicopter, which cost $2.8 million, replaces an MFS helicopter that is more than 50 years old.
“Upgrading the Maine Forest Service’s aging helicopter fleet is an investment in the safety of our forests and our people,” said Governor Janet Mills. “Maine is one of the most heavily forested states in the nation, which means that we need to be ready on a dime to protect that resource and to assist in search and rescue efforts to save lives. This new helicopter will help us do just that.”
“Transitioning the MFS aging air fleet is essential to supporting the ongoing capability of the MFS Forest Protection Aviation Branch,” said Amanda Beal, Commissioner of the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. “The Bell 407 provides safety and dependability for our Forest Rangers and our partners at the State Police, Inland Fisheries and Wildlife, and others who rely on this important resource.”
The helicopter is part of the MFS Forest Protection Aviation Branch and will be used for fire detection and firefighting, dropping water, and moving firefighters and equipment to rural and remote locations quickly.
It also will be used to support other State and local agencies, such as Maine State Police, Game Wardens, Marine Patrol Officers, and Baxter State Park Rangers, with search and rescue missions, aiding in the rescue of injured people in remote areas where emergency medical services are difficult to access.