San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) added another asset to their already powerful firefighting operations that will work in unison with San Diego County’s Fire Department assets to protect the community from fire risk.

The company hosted a press event Tuesday August 7th, 2019 to announce the arrival of a UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter, a new Tactical Command Vehicle, Evacuation Planning Map Books, and Information for Community Resource Centers to Provide Protection to Customers.

For more than a decade, SDG&E says that the company has been adding new monitoring technology, upgrading existing infrastructure and working with first responders. Today, the company unveiled additional enhancements, including a second aerial firefighting asset, as the latest strategic improvement to help ensure public safety. The UH-60 will join the company’s already operational EC-145 that went into service earlier this year.

Image courtesy Fox 5 San Diego.

“Safety is our highest priority. The new wildfire prevention assets will complement SDG&E’s decade-long fire risk preparedness program, which is aimed at identifying and better managing the effects of extreme weather and making our region more resilient,” said Caroline Winn, SDG&E’s chief operating officer. “We are committed to continuing our work with the best and the brightest in our region so that together, we can make every day safer than the last for the communities we are privileged to serve.” 

Other than maintenance downtime, SDG&E aims to have their UH-60 Blackhawk Helicopter available 365 days a year. The internal tank fitted to the company’s UH-60 holds 850 gallons of water. SDG&E is no stranger to a private/public partnership, this aircraft being the second aerial asset the company has invested in for fire suppression efforts, the company also finances the lease of an S-64 Erickson Aircrane capable of dumping 2,650 gallons of water or fire suppressant per load as the largest water-dropping helitanker in the country.

SDG&E also used the press event to showcase its new tactical command center. The vehicle is 4×4 capable tactical command vehicle capable of being deployed into challenging environments affected by wildfires. The company stated that the vehicle is vital to SDG&E’s safety efforts as it allows teams to deploy faster and quickly establish full Internet and satellite phone communications at temporary locations for fire operations. Mobile connectivity also includes a touch screen tabletop that rapidly allows responders to bring up maps of the region and of critical energy infrastructure.     

The San Diego County Evacuation Planning Map books also announced, are funded by an SDG&E grant, and will be used to assist with evacuations. About 400 books were distributed to San Diego County fire and law enforcement agencies, the United States Forest Service, and military base fire departments. The books provide map grid numbers to law enforcement dispatch centers, who will send out mass notifications to the public to advise them to evacuate.