Friday 24 May 2019

Air Corps helicopters fly over Border to help North's fire service

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Defence Minister Paul Kehoe. Photo: Tom Burke
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Irish Air Corps helicopters were called upon to cross the Border to help the Northern Ireland fire service.

Defence Force choppers were deployed to help put out a large gorse fire in Armagh, 3km north of the Border, yesterday morning.

The fire, on Ballintemple Road, has been raging for around four days now.

It's understood that approval for the helicopter operation was granted following contact between the Defence Forces, the Department of Foreign Affairs, and the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

The Department of Foreign Affairs liaised with British authorities to ensure all necessary permissions were in place for the Air Corps to cross the Border. This is the first time a request has been made for such emergency services, though they have been asked to help across the Border in other instances.

Defence Minister Paul Kehoe confirmed approval was granted for the operation. He said the Air Corps remained on standby to respond to request for help with fires caused by the hot weather.

"This deployment is the latest example of how our Defence Forces and Air Corps are assisting other agencies to ensure communities are safe," he said.

Both the AW139 and EC135 were deployed.

The AW139 helicopter is equipped with a Bambi bucket aerial firefighting system capable of dropping 1,200 litres of water.

Irish Independent

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