Changes are being made to the Honolulu Fire Department’s helicopter program after an accident earlier this month.
On Sept. 2, a firefighter conducting a rescue in a helicopter fell nearly 30 feet out of a basket.
The chopper’s pilot was grounded pending an investigation, but that put the department in a bind with only two certified pilots to fly the helicopters.
HFD says its helicopter operations are still running at 100 percent even with one of their pilots temporarily grounded.
But for the next three months, it will be expanding its helicopter training program, hoping to have more certified pilots on staff.
HFD is bringing in a full-time helicopter training instructor to spend the next three months getting new pilots up to speed. This new instructor is getting paid a little over $23,000 and is a retired flight instructor with the Honolulu Police Department.
HFD says he’s qualified with the department’s aircraft, equipment, and operations.
In a statement, it said, “The hiring of the instructor will allow HFD’s pilots to focus on emergency response and continued training with fire fighting personnel.”
As for now, even with only two pilots, HFD says its response to emergency situations is still as effective as ever: “…HFD has two full time, qualified pilots available to provide emergency response service for the City and County of Honolulu 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”