dip tanks

'Good Neighbors' Help to Fight Fires in Remote Kahikinui Homestead

Excellent, in-depth article of the recent PFX Field Tour of Kahikinui, the community's history and past struggles with large wildfires, and the bright future ahead of them for their preparedness efforts. Mahalo to the Maui News for the great coverage and to Leeward Haleakala Watershed Partnership and Pacific Fire Exchange for coordinating the field tour.

From the Source:

"There have been some smaller meetings with the community and adjacent landowners in the past, but this was the first time so many people with such a broad range of experience and interest in collaboration came together that I'm aware of," said Andrea Buckman, coordinator for the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, who organized the event along with the Pacific Fire Exchange.

Kahikinui resident Ainoa Kaiaokamalie and others joined Pacific Fire Exchange, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and a variety of other stakeholders for the field tour. Photo Credit: The Maui News

Kahikinui resident Ainoa Kaiaokamalie and others joined Pacific Fire Exchange, Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Partnership, Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, and a variety of other stakeholders for the field tour. Photo Credit: The Maui News

"In the meantime, grant funding is also an option for the community. One available program is the U.S. Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface grant, which provides funding for projects related to fire education, planning and prevention. Through this grant, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization already has $5,000 for a fuel reduction project in Kahikinui that must be matched by cash or volunteer hours."

"Currently, Kahikinui is working to become a certified Firewise Community through the help of the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization. Pablo Beimler, the organization's community outreach coordinator, said that he expects Kahikinui to receive its certification by the end of the year. Being certified would help push Kahikinui higher on grant funding lists and could reduce insurance costs in the future, he said.

Trauernicht said that the prevention projects being considering 'are always cheaper in the long run' when compared to the costs of restoring forests, livestock fuel and homes."

Brush Fire Scorches 200 Acres of Parker Ranch

"A Hawaii County Fire Helicopter makes a water drop on a brush fire in Parker Ranch on Friday afternoon. Laura Shimabuku/West Hawaii Today"

Difficult terrain made this wildfire a difficult one to put out, especially with limited water resources in the area. The fire also started on the same day Mauna Kea had snow on its peak and nearby Waimea town was shrouded in misty cloud cover. Goes to show that wildfires can occur even when least expected, a reminder to always stay vigilant.

From the Source:

"The fire on Parker Ranch Land, sparked late Friday afternoon, was 80 percent contained in an area of grass and brush by mid-afternoon, Battalion Chief Ty Medeiros said. A helicopter began making water drops on the fire Friday afternoon, and bucket drops continued Saturday, drawing from frog ponds set up using water lines from the ranch." - West Hawaii Today

From the Source:

"HFD personnel have had some trouble accessing some portions of the fire because of the terrain, with features like deep gulches and ravines, but Farias said that they have been able to set up a fire break around the perimeter of the blaze." - Big Island Now


Kaʻu News Brief - Wildfire Prevention Planning

Click to enlarge sample.

From the Source:

"Wildfire prevention planning moved to Ocean View Community Center last night where the Hawai`i Wildfire Management Organization met with residents, asking for input to update the Ka`u Community Wildfire Protection Plan. The team is taking suggestions by mail and email.

 Residents and firefighters talked about only one fire hydrant serving all of Ocean View and noted the plan for a new well, which would allow for numerous hydrants. A dip tank for helicopter water drops and a 3,000 gallon water tank assigned to firefighting were suggested. Homeowners talked about fittings that could connect their catchment and holding tanks with fire fighting equipment. How to manage home water tanks for fire protection was mentioned."

Super Choppers Confront California's Weird Wildfire Season (VIDEO)

From the Source: 

"A whirling black and yellow mechanical beast swoops in to battle a deadly wildfire. For victims, it's like the cavalry coming to the rescue.
They call it the Firehawk. 

Los Angeles County Fire Department senior pilot Tom Short talks about this helicopter like it's a super chopper.

"Having been in all of the aircraft that are out there fighting fires, the Firehawk is the best firefighting machine I've ever seen -- simply because of what it does," Short told CNN on the phone this week. "It does everything: fire, rescue and air ambulance."

Basically it's a U.S. Army Black Hawk helicopter outfitted with a giant water tank. This thing is engineered to get hellishly close to the heat of a raging inferno. Its dual souped-up engines can lift 9,000 pounds -- about the same weight as a large recreational travel trailer.

In preparation to dump water over flames, the Firehawk's snorkel can suck 1,000 gallons of water into its storage tank in the span of one minute.

"We really work these machines very hard. During some fires, Short said, "I've made over 100 drops in one day."

A firefighting super-chopper is especially valuable now, as California braces for what may be one of the worst wildfire seasons on record.

How worrisome is it? The state's firefighting agency, Cal Fire, has responded to more than 2,500 wildfires in 2014 -- a huge increase in the average number of fires at this point in the year, the agency says. In May, several fires in San Diego County forced thousands of residents from their homes and charred more than 31 square miles. The season usually doesn't ramp up until summer or fall."

Above: "The Firehawk is basically a re-purposed version of the Army's Black Hawk combat helicopter."

Above: "The Firehawk is basically a re-purposed version of the Army's Black Hawk combat helicopter."

Proposal Would Put Fire-Control Dip Tanks in Waikoloa Area

The HWMO media frenzy continues as our FEMA funding proposal for dip tank installation and fuels management projects  throughout the west side of Hawaii Island makes the West Hawaii Today!

(A note to the editor: Elizabeth Tickett should be Elizabeth Pickett.)

From the Source: 

"The Waikoloa area is a step closer to having a new series of dip tanks to help helicopters battle wildfires.

As many as five tanks would support aerial firefighting in areas that have long been recognized as particularly prone to wildland blazes, according to a recent draft environmental assessment. The project has been in the works for the greater part of a decade.

High winds and dry brush and grass make quick helicopter response vital to keep fires from spreading out of control, said Elizabeth Tickett, executive director for the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, based in Waimea. The group has applied for federal funding for the tanks and a program to clear flammable brush and grass around Waikoloa Village and Puako.

“Fire suppression is extremely difficult because a lot of things aren’t totally in place,” Tickett said. “We’re limited in water resources. And with such high winds, fires get really big fast.”

But the amount of money available from the Federal Emergency Management Agency — plus the actual number of the 12-foot diameter tanks that might be installed and when — is not yet clear. Once the organization knows how much federal funding it will receive, the nonprofit can work out how much more it needs to raise locally, Tickett said. The tanks cost around $18,000 each, according to bids from two years ago.

The 6,700-gallon tanks would hold water for firefighting and for livestock to be brought into new areas to graze down vegetation. The water would also be used to help fire-resistant native vegetation take root.

Dip tanks are being proposed for Waikoloa Village, Kuainiho, the 1859 lava flow, Ponoholo and Lalamilo. Ongoing maintenance will fall to a variety of local partners.

The Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization — made up of numerous individuals involved in fire suppression on the local and state level — has worked closely with the Hawaii County Fire Department to determine the best sites for the tanks, Tickett said.

Fire Chief Darren Rosario said the dip tanks provide a safer and more abundant source of water for helicopters than the agency’s “frog ponds,” which are 1,000-gallon portable containers that are set up near roadways and replenished with tankers.

“Dip tanks, strategically located, provide the greatest opportunity for us if a fire starts in an area that is inaccessible or located on an unimproved road,” Rosario said. “It takes a great deal of time to deploy our ground troops. The tanks allow our aircraft to get water on a fire on a much shorter turnaround.”

FEMA has indicated it will provide funds at the level of the original application, which dates back to 2006 — provided the EA process is followed through to completion. It’s not clear how much construction that would buy in today’s dollars.

The Waikoloa Village tank would be located in a 275-acre preserve managed by the Waikoloa Dryland Forest Initiative. Jen Lawson, initiative executive director, called the tank a win-win for fire suppression and for the 35 native species her group propagates.

“We’re trying to replace the nonnative grassland, which is the worst fire danger you can have out there,” said Lawson, who has focused on planting wiliwili and uhiuhi trees.

The Kuainiho tank would be placed on land the state Division of Forestry and Wildlife is currently managing for fire control along Highway 190. The tank at the 1859 lava flow would be located in the state Puuanahulu Game Management Area.

The Ponoholo tank is proposed for an area of privately owned ranch land to the northwest of the Kohala Ranch housing development. The Lalamilo tank would be located on state land being leased for ranching southwest of Waimea. Both locations had archaeological sites identified in the EA. Ponoholo and Lalamilo are not included in an alternative plan for the overall project because they would require the presence of an archaeologist during the installation process — a significant cost increase. No historical sites would be affected at the other locations, the EA found.

The Waikoloa fuel break would clear an area 0.5 miles long and 30 feet wide on the southern end of Waikoloa Village, on land owned by the village association, tying into an existing break near Pua Melia Street. Haole koa and fountain grass pose fire threats in the area.

In Puako, the clearing of brush, grading and mulching would take place in an area 2 miles long and 100 feet wide along the mauka side of Puako Beach Road, where dense, highly flammable kiawe forests and buffelgrass pose fire threats on state land.

West Hawaii has some of the most fire prone sites in the state. Native dryland forest sites — historically one of the most diverse ecosystems in the state — are imperiled, and only about 10 percent of original habitat still exists, according to the EA. Unlike some mainland ecosystems, Hawaii’s plants are not adapted to periodic fire, and invasive species have created large fuel loads that can easily ignite.

The EA is available at fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/93430."

A Hawaii County helicopter performs a water drop. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

A Hawaii County helicopter performs a water drop. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today)

State to Install Diptanks on Mauna Kea

We made the front page of West Hawaii Today, yet again! This time, we were mentioned for the hard work we have put towards installing dip tanks between Puuanahulu and Waikoloa. We were also accredited for helping demonstrate the high-frequency of wildfires in non-bare lava surface between Waimea and Puuwaawaa through our fire history mapping project. By showing the high-frequency of wildfires in these areas, we have helped attract funding for diptanks and other resources to assist fire fighters in the event of a wildfire. 

From the Source:

"In addition to the state’s planned fire diptanks, the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization, with federal funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, is finalizing environmental compliance needed to build tanks between Puuanahulu and Waikoloa, according to the assessment."


"According to the draft, maps of wildfires between 1954 and 2005 compiled by the Hawaii Wildfire Management Organization show that most of the nonbare lava surface between Waimea and Puuwaawaa has burned, much of it multiple times."

Above: "A Hawaii County helicopter drops water on a fire Oct. 5 in Kailua-Kona. The state is moving forward with plans to construct two water tanks that will feed diptanks for helicopters to use while fighting fires on the southwestern slopes of Mauna Kea. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today FILE PHOTO)"

Above: "A Hawaii County helicopter drops water on a fire Oct. 5 in Kailua-Kona. The state is moving forward with plans to construct two water tanks that will feed diptanks for helicopters to use while fighting fires on the southwestern slopes of Mauna Kea. (Chelsea Jensen/West Hawaii Today FILE PHOTO)"