HH-60L in medevac configuration. Photo courtesy of United Rotorcraft
California's Ventura County Fire Department signed a contract with United Rotorcraft to convert two surplus U.S. Army aircraft into Firehawks for firefighting operations.
The two HH-60L aircraft were initially configured for medevac operations with United medical equipment, according to a United press release. Some of that equipment will be repurposed in the Firehawk configuration.
“Ventura County Fire Department, along with our partners from Ventura County Sheriff’s Air Unit, have worked hard over the past years to identify the right solution for expanding and modernizing our aerial fleet,” Battalion Chief Gary Monday, said. “We are looking forward to seeing the new Firehawk aircraft serving the fire crews and people of Ventura County and the State of California.”
The Firehawks will carry aerial firefighting mission packages with extended landing gear, a 1,000-gallon firefighting tank and a retractable snorkel system. A multi-mission interior will also be installed to allow the aircraft to perform varying missions including search and rescue.
The Firehawk is operational in other areas in California, including Los Angeles County, San Diego Fire-Rescue and Cal Fire.
“Without this type of aircraft, we can’t drop the volume of water that allows us to get that early attack on a fire,” Los Angeles County Fire Department Battalion Chief Pat Sprengel told R&WI earlier. In 2017, 9,000 wildfires burned a record 1.2 million acres in California, and Los Angeles County crews fought them with Firehawks in day and night operations.
United Rotorcraft President Mike Slattery and VP for Business Development for U.S. and Canada Jeanette Eaton explained to R&WI in a podcast episode the aircraft's capabilities in quickly putting out fires.