Visit to Van Nuys Air Tanker For National Fire Prevention Week

With it being National Fire Prevention Week, what better way to learn about what the LA County Fire Department does than learning from some of those that helped make Planes: Fire and Rescue very true to life.  Being able to visit Van Nuys Air Tanker in Los Angeles and listen to Assistant Fire Chief of the LA Fire Department Steve Martin talk about his career and of course the use of the planes at Van Nuys Air Tanker to put out fires.

Visit to Van Nuys Air Tanker For National Fire Prevention Week


After Steve introduced himself he talked a bit about the planes that were at the airport the day I was there. “First we have what you see is the two super scoopers.  They come from the province of Québec.  They always come here in September and they generally can go through, depending on when the rains come, middle of November but we’ve had them as long as into January.  I think last year we had big fires in January so they were here until February.  We also augment with the Erickson Air-Crane Helitanker –  this one over here.  You’ve seen the movies.  Obviously you’ve seen the characters based on these.” Oh yes, can you see the resemblances of the different air crafts and the characters from the movie?


“So I received a phone call from some folks that Gabby had worked with about three years ago and they said hey, you know that movie Cars?”, Steve continues, “I’m like yeah.  They go were going to do one on planes.  And I go well, that sounds like a cool idea.  But the Disney folks are so square, they go yeah, we’re working for 2014, 15 and 16, like way out.  So they were just doing, at that time, investigating it and fact gathering and wanted to know some things.  So like I said I’ve got to give props to the Disney people.  They do their homework.” So while at Van Nuys we listened to Steve Martin, but we also listened to them talk about having a plan in case of a fire.  We even took some time to put out some fires of our own.



Putting out fires! #FireandRescue #DisneyInHomeEvent

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“So what they’re going to do is release this to home she said during the fire prevention week.  So I know all of you have probably looked it up and googled that.  The fire prevention week is the second week in October, which coincides with what?  Why is that an important week?  Anybody remember?”

Image via
Image via

“Great Chicago fire.  Threw that one at you.  The history of the great Chicago fire.  So since that time across the nation they’ve taken that week for fire prevention.  And what we do in our department basically, that is our home fire prevention programs and things that we do all year round, they’re just more highlighted during this time of year.  I have Captain Scott Miller here to speak to some of the fire prevention you know, aspects, home fire prevention, things that we do and we can show you what it is that we tell the citizens of LA County, whether we go out to the schools or we go into the convalescent homes or we go to city fairs.” So Steve suggested we Google Super Scooper to see what the French Canadian pilots do – it’s amazing! Assistant Fire Chief Steve Martin: There are some amazing videos of these guys picking up water in the smallest area of water that you can imagine, skipping down into it, picking it up and then putting it pinpoint on the fire or where it’s supposed to be ahead of the fire.

Is it automated when you pinpoint?

Captain Scott Miller No, its all manual.  It’s all hand flown like everything and then we drop that it’s all visual as well.  It’s all manual.  It’s all by training and experience.  Yeah, exactly because we been doing this for quite a long time, since the ’60’s in Québec.  The airplanes evolved a bit but yeah, it’s all been passed on from senior pilot to some younger pilots. Assistant Fire Chief Steve Martin Well they have the best experience because where they’re at in Canada and the other places they go to have huge timber fires.  Years ago the fires would burn here and in the rains might come put it out.  It might put it out, it might not.  But now because of the amount of homes that we have built up in the interface, it’s important for us to jump on that fire as small as it is.  And we found that one of the most effective ways is the aircraft and this aircraft over here and even the one we have all year round.  Now that aircraft over there also acts as an EMS or emergency medical services, okay.  So that’s a 24 hour fire shift that we have for anywhere in LA County where someone’s injured, they need to be taken off the mountains by hoist.  You probably saw that in the movie.  That would be the fire Hawk aircraft here.  We bring these aircraft in here strictly to drop water on the fires as fast as they possibly can.  So when you have a small fire, because every fire starts basically small but when we talk 100,000s of acres that runs across Malibu to the ocean or thousands of homes in the way this is what we need right here.  And like I said it might’ve been a cartoon but if that’s what you saw, they are very, very realistic as far as what they do, how they talk and what they did. IMG_8994 I was fascinated to learn that the Super Scooper holds over 2,000 gallons of water and can fill it’s tank in just 12 seconds!

How many Super Scooper exist?

Assistant Fire Chief Steve Martin We have the two.  There’s only two in Southern California.  Yeah, they fight fire all year round because when we are not fighting fire here there’s other places.  What are some of the places in the world you guys go to fight fires? Captain Scott MillerWell I mean, not that we own them but there’s some in Europe, Espagnol, everywhere in France.  But basically we just parked them in Québec and sometimes we go on contracts all around Canada and sometimes in past year we’ve gone to Portugal, Turkey and places like that. IMG_8995 Taking the time to listen to the firefighters and the importance of having a plan had me thinking if we are prepared, not only for a fire, but for any type of disaster, and in times we are living in, we need to really think about all types of scenarios to help us find each other.  So, with that, have you taken the time to have a plan for you and your loved ones? Here are some tips found on the California Government page.

10 Ways You Can Be Disaster Prepared

1. Identify Your Risk 2. Create a Family Disaster Plan 3. Practice Your Disaster Plan 4. Build a Disaster Supply Kit For Your Home and Car 5. Prepare Your Children 6. Don’t Forget Those With Special Needs 7. Learn CPR and First Aid 8. Eliminate Hazards in Your Home and The Workplace​ 9. Understand Post 9/11 Risks 10. Get Involved, Volunteer, Bear Responsibility

To get more information about fire safety and fire prevention, check out LA County Fire Department’s website.


And be sure to get Planes: Fire & Rescue (Blu-ray) when it comes out on November 4! And stay connected on Social Media!







*Visiting Van Nuys was part of a fully expense covered press trip set up by Disney In Home Entertainment.  All opinions are my own.


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