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New Rescue, Firefighting Helicopter In Santa Barbara County Undergoing Final Retrofits

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(Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office photo)
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Santa Barbara County's new rescue/firefighting helicopter

Plans call for chopper to be ready for use this fall

A new state of the art firefighting and rescue helicopter is undergoing final modifications before it’s ready for action in Santa Barbara County.

The former Blackhawk military aircraft underwent a number of systems upgrades in Alabama. Now, it’s in Colorado where a thousand gallon main water tank is being installed, and its landing gear is being modified to accommodate the changes.

The Santa Barbara based non-profit group Direct Relief donated $1.1 million dollars for the retrofit work. What’s known as Copter 964 will have expanded water dropping capacity, more space for passengers and injured individuals, night flying ability, and dual engines to improve flight safety.

Santa Barbara County has been using older Huey helicopters, which have much more limited water capacity and rescue flight capabilities. It’s expected after crew training is completed, the helicopter will be operational this fall.