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Horn to look into helicopter location issue


Last updated 7/11/2007 at Noon

Supervisor Bill Horn has promised to investigate recent concerns about one of the county's firefighting helicopters Horn and many other North County residents believed would have a regular presence at Fallbrook Community Airpark.

An editorial by North County Fire Protection District Fire Chief Bill Metcalf warned local residents that the helicopter was not truly based in Fallbrook. Subsequent concerns from community residents alerted Horn to the situation.

"I'm looking into it. I'm glad it was brought to my attention," Horn said.

In July 2004 the San Diego County Board of Supervisors authorized the purchase of two fire and life safety helicopters and assigned operational control of those helicopters to the Sheriff's Department. On June 22, 2005, the supervisors approved the county's 2005-06 budget which included $550,000 for the acquisition of capital improvements to Fallbrook Community Airpark to allow a firefighting helicopter to be based in Fallbrook. The needs for basing a helicopter in Fallbrook included a helicopter pad, a modular building for storage and living quarters, and a fuel facility or fuel truck. The plan at the time was that once the infrastructure to house the two helicopters was in place, one would be based at Fallbrook Community Airpark and the other would be based at Ramona Airport.

Copter 12, the helicopter slated for Fallbrook, is hangared overnight at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, as is the Copter 10 aircraft initially planned for Ramona.

"I don't mind if it's off fighting fires, but I spent an awful lot of money to station that thing there," Horn said of the helicopter which was supposed to be based in Fallbrook.

"I expect it to take place," Horn said of stationing the helicopter in Fallbrook. "It doesn't have to be there 24/7, but it needs to be there on a regular basis."

Horn will check with administrators from the county's Public Safety Group and from the Sheriff's Department, which is part of the Public Safety Group. "I'm glad it was brought up to me," Horn said. "There's no reason for it not to be there."


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