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San Diego County’s First ‘Heli-Hydrant’ Ready For Duty As Wildfire Season Peak Approaches

San Diego Sheriff helicopter hovers over the 'heli-hydrant' as its hose sucks...

Photo by Melissa Mae

Above: San Diego Sheriff helicopter hovers over the 'heli-hydrant' as its hose sucks up water in Fallbrook on September 14, 2021.

Just in time for the peak of wildfire season, San Diego County’s first heli-hydrant is now accessible to the region’s fleet of fire-fighting helicopters to help combat wildfires.

This new 5,000-gallon water tank can be continuously refilled and remotely controlled by a helicopter pilot, just the way fire trucks hook up to hydrants on the street.

Listen to this story by Melissa Mae.

It takes approximately five minutes to fill a helicopter tank from empty.

North County Fire Protection District Chief Keith McReynolds says there are a lot of devastating wildfires in this region. His district partnered with the Rainbow Municipal Water Department and CAL FIRE San Diego to build the heli-hydrant.

“To have a dedicated water source like this, a water resource is incredibly valuable and we certainly will be using it, hopefully not too soon, but I’m sure it will eventually see some use,” McReynolds said.

RELATED: Technology Has Growing Role In Corralling US West Wildfires

This partnership is known as the Rapid Aerial Water Supply system. It's designed to proactively combat wildfires and protect life and property.

Tony Mecham is the CAL FIRE San Diego unit chief.

“We depend on our aerial firefighting resources to slow the spread of fire and then we follow up with our ground troops and what we’ve seen is the drought has intensified in California that the usual places we dip water from are stock ponds, livestock ponds, those ponds are starting to dry up,” Mecham said.

Hayden Hamilton is the board president for the Rainbow Municipal Water District and hopes this is the first of many heli-hydrants.

“Having these facilities in large numbers will be an investment that will pay dividends in homes saved, lives not lost and peace of mind for our communities,” Hamilton said.

Video by Carlos Castillo

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Photo of Melissa Mae

Melissa Mae
Freelance Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a freelance reporter, I cover a wide variety of stories. One day I may cover the current COVID-19 situation and the next day my story may be about a San Diego landmark. With a background in sports broadcasting, any time I get to cover a sports story is an added bonus! I love covering stories about the place I am lucky enough to call home, San Diego.

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