Jun. 20—A large mobile tank capable of holding thousands of gallons of water was unveiled in Rancho Palos Verdes on Tuesday, June 20, where it will help firefighters serve Los Angeles County.
Members of the Los Angeles County Fire Department were joined by officials from the California Water Service and South Bay cities for a demonstration of the new HeloPod at its home at the Ken Dyda Civic Center.
The HeloPod was designed and built by Simi Valley-based Pump Pod USA and serves as a mobile, 7,000-gallon dip tank for large helicopters.
The county’s Fire Department already uses the helipad at the Rancho Palos Verdes Civic Center for exercises and emergency situations, with firefighters previously needing to land their helicopters before using a fire hydrant about 300 feet away to refill the water-dropping birds.
Now, with the HeloPod, firefighting helicopters can siphon 1,000 gallons while hovering above the tank for three or four minutes — greatly reducing turnaround times.
The hydrant, at least for now, will be used to fill the tank. Craig Little, a Los Angeles County firefighter specialist, says that takes 15 minutes.
(A new hydrant is also being considered for installation closer to the helipad so that hoses would no longer be needed to go across Ken Dyda Way when refilling.)
“We recognize each minute is vital when it comes to fighting wildfires,” Deputy Fire Chief Jon O’Brien said. “When lives and homes are threatened, every second counts. (The Civic Center) is a good, central location for wildfire-prone areas along the entire Palos Verdes Peninsula.”
To demonstrate the new tank on Tuesday, a L.A. County Sikorsky S-70A helicopter hovered and lowered a hose and quickly drew water from the large tank before taking off and jettisoning the water over a nearby palm tree.
“While today is technically the unveiling of the HeloPod, we actually first used it last week to make quick work of an acre fire in Palos Verdes Estates,” O’Brien said.
Weighing around 4,600 pounds, the tank is 16 feet long by 8 feet wide and stands 7.5 feet tall. Open on top, it has wheels and can be moved by pickup truck with a trailer, though this tank will remain in Rancho Palos Verdes for the foreseeable future.
Besides the peninsula, the setup is to serve Long Beach, inland Los Angeles County and even Catalina Island.
The $38,000 tank was paid for through a grant from California Water Service, which sells water to homes and businesses.
“Over 70 percent of (Cal Water’s) footprint is in a wildfire area,” said Daryl Osby, Cal Water’s vice president of emergency preparedness and a former chief of the Los Angeles County Fire Department. “And in the last decade, over 9 million acres of brush have burned in California. Water, in many instances, is a firefighter’s best friend, so we take a lot of pride in ensuring that we have good fire protection systems in our communities.”
The Los Angeles County Fire Department isn’t the first to implement one of these HeloPod tanks. Orange and Riverside Counties have deployed HeloPods, and so have Santa Barbara and San Diego counties. And L.A. County has used mobile tanks to fight forest fires.
(c)2023 The Whittier Daily News, Calif.
Visit The Whittier Daily News, Calif. at https://www.whittierdailynews.com/
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.