Supervisor Lawson-Remer & Board of Supervisors Prepare for Wildfire Season, Accept Grants for New Firefighting Helicopter and Vegetation Management

News Date

Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer and the San Diego County Board of Supervisors today voted today to enhance public safety and better protect San Diego County from wildfires, directing millions successfully secured from the federal government toward equipment and programs. 

The Board approved a $3.75 million federal grant to help fund a twin-engine firefighting helicopter. The helicopter will maintain and improve search and rescue incident response and suppression of wildland fires. Additionally, the Board cast a second vote to accept a $3.41 million federal grant to manage vegetation in fire-risk areas. 

“When a fire starts and lives are in danger, every second counts. The new firefighting helicopter will help suppress flames and rescue people in harm’s way,” said Supervisor Lawson-Remer, Vice Chair of the Board of Supervisors. “Clearing vegetation along roads, especially in our unincorporated areas, is a preventative measure to reduce the possibility of fires along evacuation routes. We adopted a wildfire evacuation preparedness plan last year, and this will help us continue to put it into action.”

Background on New Firefighting Helicopter 

The firefighting helicopter will be part of the Sheriff's Aerial Support to Regional Enforcement Agencies (ASTREA) Unit. It will augment the Sheriff's existing fleet of three Bell 205A1++ fire/rescue helicopters manufactured in 1968, 1973, and 1975.  

The helicopter will help to ensure rapid and effective fire suppression efforts and medical and hoist rescues in San Diego County communities that extend from Imperial Beach to Oceanside, east to Imperial County, south to Jacumba, and everywhere in between. 

The grant comes from Community Project Funding/Congressionally Directed Spending funds managed by the U.S. Forest Service. More information can be found here.

Background on Clearing Roads from Vegetation 

In April 2022, the Board approved the County Roadside Vegetation Management for Evacuation Preparedness Program. Through this program, San Diego County Fire in coordination with the County Department of Public Works is expanding vegetation management along critical evacuation corridors to 20 feet, beyond the traditional 10 feet of mowing that is typically conducted in the public right-of-way. 

The funding comes from the County’s successful application for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service Community Wildlife Defense Grant. More information can be found here.