Firefighter's Toys? You Bet?

by Kurt Kamm

Last week I was at a UCLA function and was talking to a woman who was unhappy because she was trapped in her car for three hours in a Los Angeles Canyon while the LACoFD battled a brush fire. Her comment was, "If the fire department didn't have so many toys to bring out, I could have gotten out sooner."

Thank goodness for the "toys." The policy in SoCal, home of some of the world's most destructive wildfires, is hit it fast and hard, with everyt resource available. Last year, an ineffective response led to a 7 week, 165,000 acre fire outside of the city of Los Angeles, which took the life of 2 firefighters.

I live in Malibu, on a hillside overlooking the water. The day after the conversation at UCLA, I received a notification of a brush fire 8 miles away. Less than 5 minutes later, I heard a familiar roar and went out onto my deck. I watched Quebec 1 and Quebec 2, the SuperScoopers fly low over my house to pick up water in the ocean to drop on the fire. I watched them skim along the surface, lift off, and fly up over my house, so low that I could see the pilots.

Ten minutes later they reappeared, and were headed down to pick up more water, when they pulled up and disappeared. I knew that the fire was out and that they had been radioed to return to their base in Van Nuys, about 20 miles away.

Each year the County of Los Angeles leases two Super Scoopers from the government of Quebec for the fall and winter fire season. These fixed-wing aircraft can carry up to 1,620 gallons of water. They are designed to scoop water from a lake or the ocean in 12 seconds and inject it with fire-resistant foam -- a combination up to three times more effective than water alone.

We also have some other airborne firefighting toys, including a 747, a DC 10, converted Blackhawk attack helicopters and everything in between.


If you want to see some spectacular aerial firefighting pictures, check my website –

If you are interested in a couple of award winning firefighter novels –RED FLAG WARNING and ONE FOOT IN THE BLACK - check those out on the same website.

Stay Safe-

Kurt Kamm

(Thank you, Kurt, for being a guest blogger today. Besides being a volunteer firefighter, Kurt is also a member of Public Safety Writers of America. )


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