On July 6, 2011, the sheriff’s office RAVEN program received a letter of authorization from the Department of Interior to use their RAVEN 3 Huey helicopter to fly fire suppression missions on BLM lands.
Within 24 hours that authorization, RAVEN 3 was dropping water on a brush fire off Gardella Avenue north of downtown Reno.
RAVEN dropped nearly 2,000 gallons of water on the Gardella Avenue fire before sunset, helping to protect homes in the area and contain the fire to a vacant hillside above U.S. 395.
In the year since, the RAVEN 3 helicopter and crew have dropped nearly 80,000 gallons of water on more than 25 wild land fires.
In addition to Russell and Lodge, the RAVEN crew consists of program supervisor Sgt. Ralph Caldwell, pilots Sepple Baumann and Nick Lopes, tactical flight officers Brandon Zirkle and George Rutter and mechanic Mo Bessiere.