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County considers buying new $16M firefighting helicopter

Posted at 5:54 PM, Apr 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-19 23:06:55-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) — San Diego County Supervisor Board Chair Nathan Fletcher says he will ask fellow supervisors to approve the purchase of a new twin-engine firefighting helicopter, expected to cost $16 million.

On Tuesday morning at Gillespie Field in El Cajon, he rode in a helicopter similar to the one the county would buy if the funds are made available.

Fletcher says San Diego County Sheriff's pilots explained to him just how valuable adding a twin-engine chopper to their fleet could be.

"With two engines, if one goes down the other one is still going so you can fly at night and we have a lot of times where we need these helicopters up at night fighting fires," said Fletcher.

The twin engines are also capable of carrying more water and can pick up water from more places.

Buying a twin-engine helicopter was proposed by former County Supervisor Diane Jacob over a decade ago, but the idea was never approved.

Fletcher says the county can't afford to wait any longer.

"We need to get the funds, we need to get the helicopter, we need to keep people safe right now," he told ABC 10News.

If approved at next week's board meeting, Fletcher says it could take up to a year before it's up and running.