There is no firefighting helicopter based in Fallbrook
Last updated 7/5/2007 at Noon
As I read the media coverage and speak with people about fire protection in Fallbrook, Bonsall and Rainbow, it has become apparent to me that I need to clarify a widely held misconception in the community – we do NOT have a firefighting helicopter based in Fallbrook.
Yes, we have an airport, with a helipad, with living quarters and office space for a helicopter crew, with a fuel truck for the helicopter, but the helicopter itself is not here.
During the brief period of time that the city of San Diego operated the county’s firefighting helicopters, they stationed a helicopter at the Fallbrook Airpark every day. That is no longer the situation. The county has assigned responsibility for firefighting helicopters to the Sheriff and purchased two helicopters specifically for this purpose (copters 10 and 12). When not on fire assignments or training, both copters spend the majority of their time at the Sheriff’s aviation facility at Gillespie Field, east of San Diego.
We have been told that the Sheriff will position a helicopter in Fallbrook if both helicopters are available, if there are no competing training or other activities going on and if fire danger is high. The reality of this situation is that it is truly a rare day when a county firefighting helicopter is actually parked at the Fallbrook Airpark.
From the fire department perspective, this is truly an unfortunate situation. The first few minutes of the firefighting effort are critical in a wildland fire situation and the response time for a helicopter from Gillespie Field is significantly longer than from Fallbrook Airpark.
That is why we urged the county, with Supervisor Horn’s valuable assistance, to station one of the helicopters here. Much has been said and printed about this wonderful resource here in the community. Unfortunately, the reality is significantly less than what many in the community believe.
Please make your property as fire-safe as you possibly can and please be extraordinarily careful with your outdoor activities. This fire season promises to be severe and we do not have the aerial firefighting resources stationed here in the community that many think we do.