There are five helicopters and seven pilots in Duhok. They don’t respond to fires in desert areas. They only tackle fires on the mountain sides.
"In the world of aviation, every plane is designed for a particular task," pilot Sarhang Mohammedamin told Rudaw. "Our helicopters are designed to be used for police work in temperatures up to 45 to 46 degrees Celsius or in places with water or a dam."
A heat wave combined with less surface water this summer has resulted in fires across the Kurdistan Region — from Duhok to Halabja.
Locals say the fires aren't particularly unusual, but they still force seasonal displacement, forcing shepherds and farmers off the hills and into cities and towns.
Duhok's aviation team, which reports to the local transportation department, aims to help alleviate those problems.
"We will first check the helicopter for any faults and then coordinate with the pilot to see how many passengers it will carry, how far, and where the mission is. Then we will give the helicopter the green light to get ready and go on the mission," explained Ibrahim Rasul, a mechanical aviation engineer.
The helicopters take off with 400-liter buckets, which scoop water from nearby lakes, and then drop the water on the fires.
Because they are a part of the police department, they also supported Peshmerga during the ISIS conflict when they were called upon.
"We have participated in extinguishing fires and have also served the brave Peshmerga on the frontlines. This team has done its best. We as the transportation department have done our best too. We deliver our services wherever we’re needed," said Brig. Gen. Fakhri Ahmad Majid, of the traffic police.
Now the fire department wants specialized aircraft to help fight fires. Last week, Peshmerga weapons depots caught fire in Duhok, Erbil, and Sulaimani cities.
The Duhok fire department wants a specialized aircraft to help fight fires.
"Pilots cooperate with us and we thank them. They have tackled many blazes. We call for a plane for Duhok that is specifically designed to tackle fires because our area is mountainous and we need it," said Brig. Gen. Abdulhamid Tahir Salih.