Water officials to partner with firefighters with strategic water restocking tank

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Water officials are poised to get into the firefighting business.

In the next couple of days the Castaic Lake Water Agency and the Los Angeles County Fire Department are expected to formally announce plans to collaborate in fighting brush fires more effectively by enabling water dumping helicopters to suck up water from tanks strategically placed atop the hills on agency property.

Members of the CLWA board who apparently by their silence were weary over debate surrounding Senate Bill 634 perked up at Thursday night’s board meeting when agency General Manager Matt Stone began talking about fighting fires.

“I like the idea,” board director BJ Atkins said.  “It’s exciting.”

Board director Jerry Gladbach said the same thing; “I think it’s a great idea.”

Assembled board members who remained silent when Stone updated them on SB 634 which was on its unobstructed way through the state Assembly, suddenly straightened up in their chairs when talk turned to Firehawk helicopters dropping in on agency to re-stock with water.

Under the plan, the Los Angeles County Fire Department would supply the tank and the agency the location and the water from a hydrant already in place.

“They have a fleet of Firehawk helicopters and we have a helicopter landing pad here at the agency,” Stone told the board.

“They approached us and requested to partner with us in locating a small water tank on our property here from where they can re-stock (with water),” Stone said.

Board members were shown a colorful slide of a helicopter hovering over a tank the size of most larger hot tubs, lowering a tube into the water and, according to Stone, that would draw water it would store and take to dump on brush fires.

“The helicopter would lower its suction nozzle – it reminds me of a wasp – and fill up on water without having to land,” Stone explained. And fill up in an area that is centrally located.

The proposed helicopter water tank would be atop the hills on the north side of Newhall Ranch Road near Bouquet Canyon Road.

“We have a good location for them,” he told the board members.

“The main thing that with this, for them, they would not have to fly so far to fill up,” Stone said, noting the plan would require no extra cost to the agency.

“If there’s a fire in Canyon Country for instance, they wouldn’t to go somewhere else

“We already have a mutual aid relationship,” Stone said. “This would further that relationship.

“We’re ready to go with that. We’ve got an agreement ready to sign,” Stone said, asking if there was any opposition.

Stone found only support.

One of the other appeals of setting up such a firefighting supply tank at the agency is that the agency site is considered a “secure facility.”

“The fire we just had this past weekend is a great example of how this will be beneficial it would be,” Stone said, referring to the Placerita fire which burned 760 acres in a couple of days.

“We would like to expedite it.  This weekend was a good example of the need,” he said.


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