The Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue and the State of California's Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) have been praised by Sikorsky for their commitment to aerial firefighting operations with the S-70i Firehawk helicopter.
Each of the three fire services recently took delivery of the new-generation aircraft for wildland firefighting, search and rescue, and medical transport. The LACoFD aircraft was prominently displayed in Sikorsky's expo booth at the 2020 Helicopter Association International Heli-Expo, and San Diego and Cal Fire's aircraft were also on the exhibit floor.
“At hundreds of brush fires and medical rescues, the Sikorsky Firehawk has proven to be simplythe best all-in-one aerial firefighting weapon,” says LACoFD fire chief Daryl L Osby. “We can carry more firefighters to the fire line and repeatedly support them by dropping thousands of gallons of water with precision and with a fast turnaround. And we can perform hoist rescues at close to 10,000 feet altitude, as well as provide critical paramedic services at municipal and extremely remote locations. It took courage for Sikorsky to stick with us as they did in the early 2000s when we tested and adapted the aerial fire-rescue tactics of the first variant. LA County along with Sikorsky Firehawk helicopters have led the way and will continue to lead the way, always looking to provide the public with the service it deserves and expects. But look where we are now; the state of California and other municipalities are going to derive benefits from years of pioneering work.”
Compared to LACoFD's three S-70A Firehawk aircraft, the new-generation S-70i model brings more power, greater manoeuvrability and lift capabilities, as well as enhanced flight safety. Systems integrator United Rotorcraft, a division of Air Methods, configured the three aircraft with an extended landing gear and a 1,000-gallon (3,785 litre) belly water tank manufactured by Kawak Aviation Technologies.
“We thank the State of California, Los Angeles County and the City of San Diego for their collective trust in the men and women of Sikorsky Aircraft, who strongly believe, as did our founder Igor Sikorsky, that helicopters should serve humankind,” says Jeanette Eaton, Sikorsky regional executive for North America. “As these first three new-generation Firehawk helicopters are placed into service to preserve lives and property, Sikorsky is putting in place programmes to support California's firefighters with world-class logistics and technical support that will ensure flight readiness for decades to come.”
Cal Fire, which operates the world's largest aerial firefighting fleet, intends to deploy a total of 12 S-70i Firehawk helicopters across the state following deliveries by Sikorsky and United Rotorcraft over the next four years. LACoFD also will receive its second of two aircraft this year.