In an effort to upgrade aerial brush fire fighting in the Mulholland corridor of the Santa Monica Mountains, City Councilmember Bill Rosendahl says the county sanitation district still needs to survey the site proposed for upgraded helipads near Fire Station 109 before any work starts.
The Los Angeles Fire Department meets with the Bureaus of Sanitation and Engineering at the Mission Canyon Landfill this week to take soil samples prior to moving forward with installing three new 24-foot by 24-foot cement pads, said spokesman Tony Arranaga.
The department has also obtained concrete pads, he noted, which are recycled sections of an old San Fernando Valley street that will now be re-used for landings. LAFD tractor trailor trucks will transport the material.
Once the results of the soil samples are returned, and assuming the County grants approval, Arranaga said the LAFD will meet with the residents who live adjacent to the helispot to address their specific concerns as relates to community impact. Abutters in the Bel Air Sky Crest neighborhood have raised concerns about noise and view impacts from the helispot upgrade.
"Councilman Rosendahl and the LAFD are optimistic that this improvement project will then be able to move forward and will be completed quickly for the safety of all the communities served by this strategically placed helispot," Arranaga said in an email.
The helispot has been in use since the late 70's and is critical during brush fires, according to LAFD, and three of the five LAFD water-dropping helicopters have been phased out in recent years. They have been replaced with new and improved aircraft, and the new helipads are needed to avoid "stacking up" in the air, which is considered dangerous and delays the turn-around time for getting water on a brush fire.
Arranaga said all of the installation work will be completed in-house at no additional cost to the taxpayers, and the LAFD will use on-duty personnel from the Wildland Fuel Management Unit, which operates the heavy tractor equipment used to maintain fire roads and to clear brush out of the path of wildfires.
Volunteers from the LAFD cadet program will maintain the site, so there will be no ongoing costs associated with upkeep, Arranaga said.
"The LAFD is currently working with the Bureaus of Sanitation and Engineering on funding for the soil samples," he said. "However, it's anticipated that these bureaus will cover the cost."