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Countywide : Board OKs Plan for Firefighting Copters

October 19, 1994|LESLIE BERKMAN

To quickly respond to fires such as those that ravaged the county a year ago this month, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved a plan for development of a helicopter program for the Orange County Fire Department by purchasing excess copters from the federal government.

The board voted unanimously to renew as needed a contract the county entered into in June to lease a firefighting helicopter, while taking steps to acquire and refurbish two other helicopters of its own over the next two years.

A report from Larry J. Holms, director of fire services for the county, projects the cost of the program at $9 million over the first 10 years of operation, if the helicopters are used only during daylight hours, and $10 million if the helicopter service is available around the clock.

The board directed the Orange County Fire Department to begin operating helicopters during daylight but to assess the need for a full 24-hour helicopter service.

The department also received approval to develop a lease with Fullerton Municipal Airport for a short-term base of operations and with Airborne Law Enforcement, a regional air support program, for a future permanent base.

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