05 August 2018

Lack Of Firefighting Aircraft In Hawai‘i

With the five brush fires raging in Hawai‘i, two on O‘ahu's west side in Mākaha and Wai‘anae, two on Hawai‘i Island (Waikoloa and Keauhou), and one in Maui (Kula). We've been asked why there are no firefighting aircraft based in Hawai‘i? Each of the counties fire departments have helicopters, but nothing larger than an MD500 that can carry 200-300 gallon baskets. The county can request assistance from the US Army / Hawai‘i Army National Guard UH-60s.

Firebombers based on the US mainland have been assigned to fight fires in the western US.

In the case of the two O‘ahu fires, a firebomber could help the Honolulu Fire Department and Federal Fire Department, especially with both fire threatening properties, and has consumed a few structures.

In the case of the Hawai‘i Island fires, they are both burning in remote areas, with the Waikoloa fire consuming over 13,000 acres. 

The State of Hawai‘i could invest in a company (via public-private partnership) to man a few aircraft that could drop very large amounts of water to fight fires around the island chain. When not being used in Hawai‘i, the aircraft could be wet-leased to fight fires elsewhere.  The Kalaeloa Airport [JRF] would be a great place to park the aircraft, as space is dwindling at HNL.

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