HCSO’s Aviation Unit is summoned to assist with a variety of situations. Our pilots, who are all law enforcement deputies, take to the skies in helicopters to help find missing persons and track criminals leaving crime scenes. And when the call comes in from Hillsborough Fire Rescue or the Florida Division of Forestry, they can help put out fires.
When called upon, the Aviation Unit utilizes the Bambi Bucket to help extinguish blazes. The device is attached to the underside of the helicopter. It hangs about 20 feet below the aircraft. The pilot will lower the collapsible bucket into a body of water and draw in 120 gallons. The loaded bucket is then delivered to the fire, and with the flip of a switch from inside the helicopter, the bucket is opened and the water dispensed on the flames.
The Bambi Bucket has been a part of the Aviation Unit’s equipment for about four years. To date, HCSO helicopters have made dozens bucket drops on fires, mainly wildfires which had been threatening residential areas.
HCSO pilots train regularly with the bucket to keep their targeting skills sharp and the equipment in top working condition.