OC Won’t Operate Fire Choppers At Night

YORBA LINDA (CBS) — If you call them, they may not come: That’s the concern of Yorba Linda residents who want around the clock fire chopper response.

KNX 1070’s Mike Landa Talks to Margo Boyer of Yorba Linda’s Emergency Response Team

Margo Boyer, a member of Yorba Linda’s Community Emergency Response Team, is concerned after learning that Orange County Fire Authority choppers are only staffed until 8 p.m. during the week.

County Fire Battalion Chief Kris Concepcion says there’s just not enough money to staff the choppers around the clock.

Several homes were lost in Yorba Linda when the 30,000-acre Triangle Fire scorched parts of Los Angeles, Orange, San Bernardino and Riverside counties in 2008.

(©2010 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

  • Phil

    Orange County has never flown it’s fire fighting helos at night to fight fires. There are only two fire fighting agencies in the whole world who fight brush fires at night with helos, and these are LA City and LA County Fire Departments. Of the two, only LA County has the ability to use night vision goggles, meaning they have the special cockpit lighting necessary, have the NVG’s, which are very expensive items, and spend the time ( meaning money for fuel and maintenance ) training their pilots on them. LA City Fire Department pilots will fly night missions with an unaided eye, but the conditions have to be perfect for terrain and power line avoidance. Having a lot of city lights in the background for attitude reference is necessary.
    Orange County has never had this capability, nor does any other agency except the two mentioned, so the article is misleading in the extreme.

    • Lex

      Interesting, Phil. What’s up with that CBS?

  • Natalie

    Orange County flew during the Yorba Linda fire over Labor Day weekend. I think this article is misleading. Although the funds may not able available to staff the birds 24/7, the crews are probably “on call”. Meaning, that when time comes, they will take to the skies.

  • Larry B

    Sorry Phil – OC recently spent the money to buy two new choppers, night vision goggles, fuel, and crew training. Just a few weeks ago they completed training and authorized night operations. Now OCFA management is pleading poverty and can’t afford to pay for full-time crews. Crews go off-duty at 8PM. The Yorba Linda fire over Labor Day weekend just snagged a crew by literally minutes. The crew was in the parking lot ready to head home, but delayed a few minutes when they overheard a radio call about a fire in Yorba Linda. Off duty crews can be called in, but the pilots live 40 to 90 minutes from Fullerton airport where the choppers are based. If you get into a serious traffic accident at 9PM, do you want to wait an hour or two for a chopper to airlift you? If a brush fire breaks out at 10PM, do you want to let it spread for a couple of hours before the choppers get off the ground?

  • Lindon

    CBS – Let’s correct that headline. OCFA is able to OPERATE the choppers at night, but they choose not to STAFF them at night. OCFA crews are fully trained, equipped, and ready to fly at night using night vision goggles, but OCFA is only budgeting part-time staffing. The board will consider continuing with the part time staffing, or possibly improving staffing, at upcoming meetings in October or November. If you feel that full-time staffing of one, or even two, choppers should be a budget priority, now is the time to share your views with OCFA chief officers.

  • Bill

    Maybe L.A. could help O,C. with the night fires that threaten homes .

  • Buck

    Raise a tax or pinch a penny just staff it.

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