PHOTO BY GREG DOYLE
Two Coulson Chinook Helicopters extract 3000 gallons each of
water from 69 Bravo reservoirs (“pumpkins”) at the same time.
Anticipating Santa Ana winds across Southern California, the L.A. County Fire Department hosted its annual training exercise at Helispot 69 Bravo high above Topanga Canyon and Malibu on Tuesday, October 19. It was the first exercise—a “proactive” effort by the L. A. County Fire Department to include Orange and Ventura counties—to familiarize the pilots and their crews with the Eastern Santa Monica Mountains. The exercises began approximately at 4 p.m. and concluded by 8 p.m.
The Quick Reaction Force (QFR) included two new Coulson Chinook helicopters, the largest in the world, each based in Los Angeles and Orange County, as well as two fire-fighting Fire Hawks from Ventura, Los Angeles and Orange County Fire Departments, conducted both day and night hover-fill and water drop exercises.
The Coulson helicopter crews who fly the Chinook helicopters said that “to their knowledge there is no other helicopter water resource in the world that equals 69 Bravo.” The two Chinook helicopters have the ability to extract 3000 gallons each at the same time from any of four 69 Bravo “pumpkins,” totaling 6,000 gallons, in addition to smaller capacity fire-fighting helicopters That can all fill simultaneously to fight a potential fire in Topanga, Malibu, and the Santa Monica Mountains.
Since the Coulson Chinook helicopters arrived in June, fire officials continue to say this is a “game changer” for fighting fires with the additional capacity of the two Chinooks. Their 6,000-gallon capacity is equivalent to six L. A. County Fire Hawks; 16 L. A. County Bell 412 helicopters; 17 L. A. City Agusta Helicopters; or 12 fire engines holding 500 gallons each. In addition, the Coulson helicopters located in Orange and Ventura county are only 13 minutes flight time from 69 Bravo.
The communities in and around the Santa Monica Mountains give a big “Thank you!” to Supervisor Sheila Kuehl and Fire Chief Daryl Osby for securing 69 Bravo in perpetuity and for having the vision to gain access to the two largest fire-fighting Chinook helicopters in the world to protect the residents of Los Angeles county.