While state officials are canceling contracts for equipment and charging residents for fire protection, Los Angeles County officials have renewed their contract with the government of Quebec to provide two Super Scooper planes for the 2011 fire season.
At their last meeting, the Supervisors approved the lease of two CL-415 SuperScoopers fire-fighting aircraft for use by the LA County Fire Department. The cost for the annual lease is $2.75 million.
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Earlier this month, officials at CalFire announced that they would not be renewing their contract for two DC-10 “supertanker” aircraft that carry up to 12,000 gallons of fire retardant each. The move was made to save the state $7 million and came on the heels of a staffing change that reduced the number of firefighters on engines from four to three.
In addition, part of the budget approved by Governor Brown included a $150 per household levy for fire protection for properties in State Responsibility Areas. This is expected to be collected by the state's Board of Equalization.
When the contract is in force, the supertankers, which are based in Victorville, can be in the air within 30 minutes. Without the contract, the planes may or may not be available, and getting them in the air could take at least 24 hours.
The SuperScoopers contracted by the County are fixed-wing aircraft that can carry up to 1,620 gallons of water. It only takes 12 seconds for the planes to scoop water from lakes in the area and inject it with fire-resistant foam – a combination up to three times more effective than water alone. They can be airborne in as little as five minutes and fly three hours before refueling.
The SuperScoopers are expected to arrive on Thursday, September 1 and will be placed into service through November 31.
“To ensure our County Fire Department has the tools they need to be fully prepared for fire season, these vital aircraft have been requested to supplement the Department’s water-dropping helicopters and other fire-suppression machinery,” said Supervisor Mike Antonovich.