After publishing our article last week about the permanent “heli-hydrants” being built in Orange County, California, I thought I’d write about transportable tanks that can serve as water sources for helicopters. Portable, or transportable, water tanks have been used for decades for refilling helicopters or to serve as a temporary water storage facilities at structure or wildland fires. They may be collapsable with flexible sides, or hard-sided and transported on flatbed trucks. The tanks can be filled with retardant, other water enhancement products, or plain water. Helicopters can refill a water bucket by dipping it into the tank, or if equipped, use a large diameter hose on the helicopter with an attached hydraulic-powered or electric pump to refill an external or internal water tank on the aircraft.
For example — Greyback Forestry has various sizes of dip tanks that are transported on trailers or flatbed trucks. The company can also supply mobile mixing systems that use a proportioner to mix enhancement products into the water which improve its ability to slow the spread of a fire.
West Coast Water Tenders operates two tanks they call Heli Troffs that have wheels so they can be towed behind trucks. One holds 18,000 gallons and the other, 8,000 gallons.
The Heli Troffs, now operated by West Coast Water Tenders, were invented by Keril Keiser and later acquired by West Coast, according to Andrew Sarvis of West Coast. The white one has an automatic refill system and the company has plans to install one on the larger yellow tank, which they call “Goliath.”
When not assigned to wildfires, West Coast works for movie and television studios providing special effects such as “rain” and wet downs for shots. They can also support studios with fire protection as needed.
Below is video of a helicopter dipping into a Greyback tank which contains a blue water enhancement product.