In 1919, visitors to national parks were curious as to why airplanes and dirigibles were flying overhead, especially since the war had already ended. Unbeknown to most, forest rangers were being trained in aviation so that they could help locate forest fires. Fighting fire was a team effort; watchers, or men stationed at strategic lookouts, would alert headquarters by telephone, so they could dispatch a group of men to extinguish the flames. Since watchers' visions were limited, the Forestry Bureau commissioned dirigibles inflated with the new non-inflammable helium to patrol parts of the forests that were blocked from view. Additionally, air scouts could contain the fire with extinguishing bombs until the regular ground crew arrived. If that didn't sound novel enough, aircraft were tentatively slated to receive wireless sets to improve communication between pilots the ground.
Read the full story in "Fighting Fire From the Sky"