Firefighting at Los Angeles International Airport

Los Angeles Fire Department airport rescue
Screen grab from LAFD video.

Airport firefighting is a very specialized niche —  there are not many similarities in what they do compared to most other firefighters. For example, one of the Los Angeles Fire Department’s rigs at the city’s airport can apply by the push of a button on the dash, water, foam, dry chemical, or Halotron (a clean agent). That truck also has a penetrator device which can pierce the fuselage of an aircraft in order to apply one of the four suppressing agents in the interior of the aircraft.

Los Angeles Fire Department airport rescue
A penetrating nozzle on a Los Angeles Fire Department airport rescue truck. Screen grab from LAFD video.

Much more information is in the video below about the Los Angeles Fire Department Airport Rescue Firefighting organization.

Introduction to the Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter program

LAFD helicopter
AgustaWestland AW139. Screenshot from the LAFD video.

The Los Angeles Fire Department(LAFD) aviation program started in 1962 with one Bell 47. Today they have six helicopters, four AgustaWestland AW139’s and two Bell Jet Rangers. To work as a pilot with the Department, you can’t simply walk in off the street. The minimum qualifications are:

  • Private helicopter license,
  • At least 100 hours of flight time in a helicopter, and,
  • Four years experience as a firefighter with the LAFD.
LAFD helicopter crane rescue
Screenshot from the LAFD video.

After a pilot is accepted into the program they are shipped over to the Los Angeles Police Department aviation program where they receive training with 150 hours of flight time, a commercial license, and an instrument rating. If successful there, they go back to the Fire Department and get another 200 flight hours of training. Then there is additional schooling at AgustaWestland to fly their 139.

The video below has much more information.

Helicopter diverts from dropping water to rescuing civilians… and dogs

“This is rapidly becoming very ugly.”

Helicopter Rescue Woolsey Fire California
Screenshot from the LA Fire Department video below. Three people and two dogs were rescued as the Woolsey Fire approached.

While on a water dropping mission on November 9, the second day of the Woolsey Fire in Southern California, a Los Angeles Fire Department helicopter received a new assignment. Civilians were trapped on a mountain top as the fire approached. Even as they were running critically low on fuel the pilots found a way to land on a ridge top that was littered with communication towers and vehicles.

The video below was shot from a pilot’s helmet camera.

It was great work, team work, by the pilots to successfully pull this off. We appreciate that he filmed what they were doing, and that their department approved and helped to publicize the fact that the recording exists. Some public agencies have draconian rules about their employees or the public taking photos or filming their activities. Videos like this can help citizens understand what fire departments do and how they are carrying out their missions even as politicians may lob uninformed verbal assaults their way.

CAL FIRE says the Woolsey Fire has burned 96,949 acres and 1,500 structures, with no breakdown of residences vs. outbuildings. The number of civilian fatalities has remained at three for several days.

Night flying helicopter drops water on structure fire near World Series game

Two fires broke out Wednesday night near Dodgers Stadium, a brush fire and one in a condominium.

Above: A helicopter dropped water on a fire in a condominium near Dodgers Stadium Wednesday night. Screen grab from CBS LA video.

(Originally posted at 2:53 p.m. MDT October 26, 2017)

Two fires broke out Wednesday night during the World Series game on opposite sides of Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. First was a grass fire reported at 7:35 p.m. in the 1800 block of Academy Road. A night-flying helicopter assisted firefighters on the ground by dropping water on the blaze that burned about two acres.

The helicopter was then diverted to a fire on the third-floor balcony of a three-story condominium in the 1000 block of Everett Place where it made two water drops. Los Angeles City Department Assistant Chief Tim Ernst called it, “A quick knockdown”.

There was a report that the owner of the condo could see the fire from the baseball game.

NTSB investigating LAFD helicopter tree strike

lafd fire 4 helicopter
On June 20 the Los Angeles Fire Department announced their just-purchased helicopter, “Fire 4”, was en route to LA.

The Los Angeles Fire Department is not saying much about an NTSB investigation into an accident that involved their brand new firefighting helicopter, Fire 4, an AW139 that they just put into service one or two months ago. On September 2 Fire 4 was making water drops on the La Tuna Fire in Los Angeles and struck a tree, according to a preliminary accident report by the FAA.

At least one person told NBC 4 in Los Angeles that while monitoring fire traffic on a scanner he heard the pilot say he hit something and put out a Mayday call. The pilot made a successful emergency landing at the Verdugo Hills High School football field.

fire 3 lafd helicopter
File photo of Fire 4’s sister ship, Fire 3. Both are AW139’s. LAFD photo.

You’ll probably want to click on full screen at bottom-right in the video below.

Heliweb has photos that appear to show small tree branches embedded in the damaged areas of the fuselage while the aircraft was parked on the football field. The helicopter apparently received substantial damage to the tail boom, stabilizers, and left side sponson/wheel housing. The left side stabilizer is missing in the photos.

Continue reading “NTSB investigating LAFD helicopter tree strike”

Air-Crane starts contract in Southern California

An Erickson Air-Crane just started its summer contract with the Los Angeles City Fire Department.

View from helicopter while fighting Placerita Fire

This is the view from the cockpit of a Los Angeles City Fire Department helicopter while fighting the Placerita Fire Sunday in Southern California.