County expected to OK firefighting helicopter maintenance contract

An Air Operations Section mechanics inspects a component of a Sikorsky S-70i Firehawk helicopter at Barton Heliport. Kazia Doros/For The Signal
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Los Angeles County supervisors are expected to approve a $4.2 million contract Tuesday to maintain and repair the county’s fleet of Sikorsky Firehawk helicopters.

Tony Bell, a spokesperson for Supervisor Kathryn Barger, said the contract is needed to help firefighting personnel, especially during wildfire season.

“The Firehawks are an important component to our county’s firefighting arsenal,” he said.

The contract between the Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County and Helicopter Support Inc. is initially for three years, with two one-year extensions, and an additional twelve month-to-month extensions. The yearly amount will not exceed $700,000 and the contract will last no more than six years, according to a letter from Los Angeles County Fire Chief Daryl Osby to the board of supervisors in advance of the vote Tuesday.

“The contracted services will consist of structural repairs, power plant-related repairs, and repairs of various subsystem components and required inspection of the Firehawks. HSI will provide the District all tools and labor necessary to perform repairs and/or modifications to the District’s Firehawks,” Osby wrote. “The purpose of the recommended actions is to enable the District to obtain continued as-needed maintenance and repair services required for flight readiness of the District’s Firehawks. These services are essential to ensure that the District’s Firehawks are readily available for emergency responses, which will allow the District to continue to provide essential services throughout Los Angeles County, such as helicopter emergency medical transports and wildland firefighting.”

Osby said the Firehawk helicopters help fight brush fires via water drops and transporting fire crews, assist in swift water and hoist rescues and provide emergency medical transportation year-round. The county has three Firehawk helicopters and is expected to receive two new “mission ready” Firehawks by the end of the year.

Osby said the contract costs will be covered by the county and future budgets will allocate funds at no net cost to the county.

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