Home Critical engine San Diego County supervisors approve first $16 million twin-engine helicopter to help fight wildfires

San Diego County supervisors approve first $16 million twin-engine helicopter to help fight wildfires


San Diego County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Tuesday to buy a twin-engine helicopter to help fight wildfires.

The decision of the supervisors will allow the Purchasing and Contracts Department director to negotiate a fair price for a Bell 412 EPX helicopter.

According to the information on the supervisors diary, the helicopter is estimated at 16 million dollars.

Board chairman Nathan Fletcher made the proposal and said getting the helicopter “has been a long-desired goal” as the region faces a higher risk of wildfires. . He also thanked the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department for its funding assistance.

Fletcher added that the county’s current fleet of single-engine helicopters can’t fly at night or carry that much water, but a twin-engine helicopter will solve those problems.

Currently, the county’s air fleet consists of single-engine helicopters with airframes from the 1960s and 1970s.

Supervisor Jim Desmond thanked Fletcher for presenting the proposal.

“You have to provide the best firefighting capability possible,” he said.

In a related action, supervisors also unanimously approved a roadside vegetation management and evacuation preparedness program, as well as a contract with Perimeter Solutions to supply a brand of fire retardant.

In a statement released after the vote, Fletcher said the plan continues the commitment “this Board of Supervisors made last year to ensure our county is ready to respond to wildfires and take action. preventive measures necessary to protect residents and their property. We will invest as necessary to keep San Diegans safe.

According to Fletcher’s office, a total of 79% of the county’s unincorporated area is designated as high or very high fire danger area.

Last year, supervisors approved the creation of an expanded roadside vegetation management program.

Officials from the county’s fire department and Department of Public Works then identified 200 miles of lanes of what are considered critical evacuation corridors, with unique entry and exit points that could benefit from additional management. roadside vegetation, according to Fletcher’s office.

City News Service contributed to this article.