Two innovative facilities have been installed in Orange County that provide permanent water sources for firefighting helicopters. Called “heli-hydrants”, the one most recently built in Yorba Linda, California is an automatically refilling tank that holds 2,700 gallons. During the Blue Ridge Fire in October it was used by helicopters battling the blaze.
Located at a municipal reservoir, as the water level drops a sensor triggers a valve to refill the tank which takes about 30 seconds. There is another similar heli-hydrant in Southern Orange County in the city of Laguna Beach. A third, larger one, is scheduled to be built next year about 10 miles east of the one in Yorba Linda.
Portable, or transportable, water tanks have been used for decades for refilling helicopters — collapsable with flexible sides, or hard-sided tanks that are transported on flatbed trucks. They can be filled with retardant or plain water.