Los Angeles Times

O.C. buys two new helicopter­s to fight wildfires

Fire Authority will replace 1966 Super Hueys with Sikorsky S70M Firehawks.

- By Noah Goldberg

In an effort to upgrade its firefighti­ng abilities, the Orange County Fire Authority will replace two 55-year-old helicopter­s with a new pair of state-of-the-art choppers, the department said Thursday.

The OCFA has been fighting flames with just two helicopter­s since 2020, when it had to ground its two 1966 UH-1H Super Hueys due to the skyrocketi­ng costs of operating the aging aircraft, the authority said.

But Thursday the authority announced it had approved the replacemen­t of the Super Hueys with two brand-new Sikorsky S70M Firehawks.

“The two new Sikorsky S70M Firehawks that will replace the 55-year-old Hueys are already a staple in the fire service as all of our surroundin­g peer agencies — from Santa [Barbara] and Ventura to L.A. and San Diego — have had these stateof-the-art, multi-mission helicopter­s in their respective fleets for years,” the authority said in a tweet.

The authority has two Bell 412EP helicopter­s in use.

The new choppers will help the OCFA “perform day/night aerial fire suppressio­n, remote rescues, and other all-hazard missions at a far safer and capable level.”

The Firehawks — which can carry 1,000 gallons of water each — greatly increase the authority’s ability to combat blazes from above, authority officials said.

Before the helicopter­s go into use next fall, they have to be converted from Black Hawks, the standard military helicopter, to Firehawks, which are for fire suppressio­n and rescue only.

The addition of the helicopter­s comes just weeks after the authority announced it received $17 million in state funds to build a new facility to house its recently expanded hand crew, which works to clear brush and construct barriers in the way of fires.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United States