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DNR, state police partner to fight wildfires

Bambi Bucket
Posted at 4:59 PM, Jun 01, 2022

LANSING, Mich. — An idea, first brought up in 2016, became a reality for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources and Michigan State Police.

The DNR’s new device, called the “Bambi Bucket,” is a 320-gallon collapsible bucket that could be a big help to crews fighting future wildfires in the state.

“It’s another important tool in the toolbox when it comes to fighting fires. The Bambi Bucket can help in the early stages of a fire to keep it manageable, keep it small, especially in an area that’s hard to access,” said Dan Laux, Fire Section manager for the DNR’s Forest Resources Division.

The DNR says dropping water on a burning hot fire can help cool it down so crews on the ground can get near the flames more safely.

Former DNR Fire Section leader Jim Fisher and pilot Bill Green presented the idea to state police in 2016.

Michigan State Police was able to get a helicopter from a federal military surplus.

Meanwhile, the DNR bought the bucket, which costs about $25,000, with federal grant money.

Just last month, the UH-1 helicopter named “Huey” hovered over a Michigan lake to fill the Bambi Bucket with water.

Huey then carried the water back to a wildfire and dropped it down to help calm the flames.

Bambi Bucket

“This was a great opportunity to utilize existing aerial resources within the state for wildfire suppression. Michigan State Police and the Michigan Department of Natural Resources programs saw the mutual benefit of working together to protect natural resources, life and property during wildfire events. The addition of the Bambi Bucket adds to the long history of collaboration between the two agencies,” said Kevin Jacobs, DNR aviation manager.

The DNR has worked to suppress 138 fires covering more than 2,900 acres across the state so far in 2022.

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