New ‘fire hydrant’ for water-dropping helicopters may cut response time for remote wildfires

New ‘fire hydrant’ for water-dropping helicopters may cut response time for remote wildfires

With hearth season heating up in Southern California, firefighters unveiled a brand new “hearth hydrant” for helicopters on Monday that would drastically cut back turnaround occasions for water drops in distant areas.

Set on a 1,700-gallon metallic water tank, the Remotely Activated Snorkel Website makes use of robot-controlled valves to faucet into an space’s municipal water system, permitting fast entry for snorkel helicopters that in any other case must spend priceless minutes flying to a reservoir or different water supply.

The brand new know-how, being subject examined in Anaheim Hills, is the primary of its type within the nation, officers from the Orange County Hearth Authority and Anaheim Hearth & Rescue mentioned in a information convention Monday.

Firefighters hope it is going to be a game-changer in areas the place open water sources are scarce.

“This actually can cut back the period of time it takes to refill and might considerably cut back the variety of water drops they’ll do throughout firefighting operations,” Anaheim Hearth spokesman Daron Wyatt mentioned.

In a backdrop of brown hills scorched by the Canyon 2 hearth final 12 months, an OCFA helicopter on Monday hovered over the specialised tank and siphoned practically 2,000 gallons of water inside 45 seconds.

The helicopter pilot makes use of a remote-control system to energetic the valve and fill the water tank, eliminating the necessity for a firefighting floor crew to activate the valve. The tank is empty when not in use.

“We’re not afforded the flexibility to have a detailed reservoir in lots of areas of the county, so that is know-how that we’d be very serious about transferring ahead,” mentioned Battalion Chief Craig Coby, who heads air operations for OCFA.

The particular tank will likely be examined over the subsequent 12 months close to Avenida de Santiago in Anaheim Hills.

Mark Whaling, a Los Angeles County Hearth battalion chief and proprietor of Whaling Hearth Line Gear, mentioned he bought the thought for the know-how whereas serving to with the Canyon 2 hearth in October. The blaze burned for eight days, charred 9,200 acres, destroyed 15 properties and displaced hundreds of residents of Anaheim Hills and North Tustin.

“I believed, ‘There must be a means we will get to the water simpler and faster,’” he mentioned.

Whaling, who makes a speciality of new firefighting know-how, mentioned he developed the Remotely Activated Snorkel Website by means of a lot trial and error. The system prices between $30,000 to $50,000 to put in – about twice the price of a primary hearth hydrant, he mentioned.

The water-dropping helicopters wouldn’t have to be specifically modified in any respect for this know-how. The county’s park system helps out by permitting the tank to be positioned on park land.

If the trial interval is a hit, the county might contemplate shopping for a number of tank programs, officers mentioned. The tanks may be positioned above or beneath floor.

The hassle comes as officers vowed to step up hearth prevention following the Canyon 2 hearth. In latest months, separate experiences from Orange County and the Orange County Hearth Authority blamed the hearth’s dimension and destruction on human error and lapses by OCFA officers.

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