Joint Forces Training Base will host two of the world’s largest fire fighting helicopters as a joint task force designed to provide coverage across Los Angeles, Ventura and Orange counties unveiled a selection of fire and emergency equipment Monday.
Southern California Edison has provided about $18 million to fund the Quick Response Force (QRF), Orange County Fire Authority Capt. Thanh Nguyen reportedly told a news conference Monday at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.
He said the multi-agency team assigned to battle wildfires across Southern California.
The SCE funding will provide for the “world’s largest, 24-hour capable, fire-suppression helicopters with unique water and fire-retardant dropping capabilities,” according to a statement released by the group.
The arrangement gives OCFA, as well as the Los Angeles County and Ventura County fire departments, access to a pair of Chinook CH-47 helitankers, which are capable of flying day or night and can each carry up to 3,000 gallons of fire-retardant or water.
A Sikorsky S-61 helitanker capable of dropping 1,000 gallon payloads is also part of the QRF’s arsenal of firefighting equipment. The collaborative effort augments each participating agency’s existing aerial fleet, and will operate for 180 days during the peak of summer.
Additionally, the retardant base is capable of mixing up to 18,000 gallons of 259-Fx retardant every hour; the only long-term fire retardant approved by the U.S. Forest Service for fixed tank helicopters, according to the release.
Millions of people in Los Angeles, Orange and Ventura counties live in wildfire-prone areas, officials said, and the effort was formed in light of the recurring threat of disaster these communities face. It makes its debut Tuesday amidst historically dry conditions and predictions of an exceptionally dire wildfire season.
Officials appearing at the Monday news conference at the Joint Forces Training Base Los Alamitos included Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby, Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy, Ventura County Fire Chief Mark Lorenzen, Brigadier General Michael Leeney and Southern California Edison President and CEO Kevin Payne.
The event also included a hover-filling and water-dropping demonstration.