Wildfires water drops
The Sikorsky CH-54A Type 1 helicopter that will be used by Cal Fire San Diego. Photo credit: County News Center

Cal Fire San Diego has acquired a Sikorsky CH-54A Type 1 helicopter to add to the region’s resources for wildfires.

“The new Type 1 helicopter significantly bolsters our local air attack arsenal. It can drop about seven times as much water as the existing county firefighting helicopters,” said Jeff Collins, San Diego County Fire’s director.

A Type 1 is the most powerful helicopter among the county’s air assets. Cal Fire and the county have a cooperative agreement to use the Sheriff’s Bell 205 Type 2 initial attack helicopters with a 375-gallon capacity.

The Sikorsky CH-54A has a capacity to carry 2,650 gallons of water.

“This is a tremendous amount of water available in one drop,” said fire Capt. Frank LoCoco of Cal Fire San Diego. “It allows us to fight these fires aggressively and keep them small.”

The new helicopter arrived in the county on Monday and is on an exclusive-use contract with Cal Fire to respond as needed. It will operate out of Ramona Airport.

In total, the region will have up to nine staffed firefighting helicopters and three planes, which are provided by the county, Cal Fire, U.S. Forest Service, the city of San Diego and San Diego Gas & Electric.

The partnerships, said county officials, add substantial fire suppression resources from the air to assist those on the ground.