OCFA and LA County Fire Join Forces for Helicopter Drills

OCFA and LA County Fire Join Forces for Helicopter Drills
The Orange County Fire Authority's new firefighting helicopter waits on the runway to take off prior to a demonstration of its water-dropping capabilities in Los Alamitos, Calif., on Sept. 30, 2020. (John Fredricks/The Epoch Times)
Jack Bradley

LOS ANGELES (CNS)—Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA) firefighters and Los Angeles County Fire Department personnel are teaming up on Nov. 17 to conduct helicopter drills in in the Santa Monica Mountains to prepare them to better confront large-scale wildfires in the region in concert.

The day drill was scheduled to begin at 4 p.m. in Topanga. The evening drill scheduled in Malibu was set to involve the world’s largest helicopter-tanker, a Boeing CH-47 Chinook, a heavy-lift aircraft with the capacity to release 3,000 gallons of water with each drop, according to fire commanders.

The drills are part of the Expedited Resource Response Plan Pilot Program, a joint effort coordinated by OCFA Chief Brian Fennessy and L.A. County Fire Chief Daryl Osby.

OCFA Capt. Ben Gonzalez told The Epoch Times that firefighters also did a series of training exercises during the earlier part of the day in Orange County on Nov. 17.

“Today was just a training exercise here in the hills above Laguna in regards to our two helicopters, our primary helicopter that we use and then the current one that we’re in contract with from Southern California Edison, the Chinook 47, which has the capability of holding up to 3,000 gallons of water,” Gonzalez said.

“What we did today was demonstrate its ability to get water from a portable hydrant which we have up here in the hills.”

Gonzalez said the world’s largest helicopter-tanker performed admirably.

“The Chinook demonstrated its ability to come in, drop its snorkel in the water, get water, and then its ability to raise the snorkel as compared to the regular helicopters, that the snorkel hangs down from the whole time they’re flying. ... The snorkel has the ability to pump itself [and] fill its own tank.”

L.A. County Fire Chief Osby lauded the cooperation between the two agencies.

“It is important and vital that we continue to partner with our peers to provide each other with critically needed air and ground resources that are essential at a moment’s notice, especially during large-scale wildfire events when lives and property are threatened,” Osby said.

“We continue to learn and grow from past and present wildfire incidents, such as the Woolsey, Lake, and Bobcat fires.

“With wildfires increasing in intensity and size, we must all work together to be prepared and best strategize how to bolster our ability to protect communities when they need us the most.”

Firefighters in Orange County recently battled the Silverado Fire in the Irvine area and the Blue Ridge Fire, which began in Yorba Linda.

The Silverado Fire burned 12,466 acres while destroying five structures and damaging nine more. The Blue Ridge Fire burned 13,964 acres, damaged 10 structures, and destroyed one building.

Both fires began on Oct. 26 and were fully contained by Nov. 7.

City News Service contributed to this story.