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Marc Marcantonio Heli-Hydrant


Natural Disaster Mitigation Project


The Marc Marcantonio Heli-Hydrant is an innovative 12-foot wide, 2,700-gallon water tank that firefighting helicopters use to safeguard life, property, and the environment for the benefit of the community. The Heli-Hydrant allows first responders to save critical time and effectively fight fires by offering a strategically placed, quick-fill, pilot-operated water source that can repeatedly fill in three to six minutes. Located in the hills of Yorba Linda, this remote-operated Heli-Hydrant provides firefighting capabilities in areas not easily and safely reached by ground firefighters. It offers cities, counties, and agencies a game-changing way to combat wildfires.

The City of Yorba Linda is in a zone that routinely experiences wildfire devastation. In November of 2008, over 200 homes were lost in the Freeway Complex Fire. It brought devastation and loss of property to ratepayers in the YLWD service area in the order of $200 million. YLWD set to work on an innovation that would give firefighters a tool for fighting wildfires to prevent this from reoccurring. YLWD developed the Heli-Hydrant to get first responders the resources they need faster than ever. YLWD has worked hand-in-hand with local fire authorities to save critical time and aid in effective firefighting. Collaborative efforts included selecting a site suitable to flying conditions, designing a tank free from obstructions, installing tank lighting, and providing a monitoring system and remote operation capabilities.

In late October 2020, the Heli-Hydrant supported aerial firefighters battling the Blue Ridge Fire. The strategic location of the Heli-Hydrant in the wildland-urban interface zone reduced response times 50% because it diminished the need for Helicopters to fly long distances to refill their water tanks. The Boeing Chinook CH-47 Heli-Tankers were able to fill their 2,000-gallon tanks at the Heli-Hydrant within 56 seconds. They made drops on spot fires in Chino Hills State Park and returned every four minutes to repeat this process to safeguard life, property, and the environment.

In the upcoming year, YLWD plans to build more Heli-Hydrants throughout the District to give the community increased protection from wildfires.