LOS ANGELES – July 13, 2023 – Coulson Aviation is pleased to announce its selection as the only private helicopter operator for the fifth consecutive year to support Southern California’s Quick Reaction Force (QRF) to fight wildfires. Contracting with Los Angeles, Orange, and Ventura County fire departments with its fleet of Very Large Helitankers, pilots, and support crews, this new contract extends Coulson’s support of the QRF to 24/7/365, a first ever opportunity for the company and the counties and the only contract of its kind worldwide.

“Coulson Aviation is pleased to be part of this game-changing and successful force for California in response to the state’s year-round needs,” said Wayne Coulson, CEO of Coulson Aviation. “Our aircraft are on contract in the LA Basin, day and night, providing additional air support to the brave men and women firefighters protecting Southern California.”

This is the fifth year Coulson has supported the QRF, which launches around the clock efforts at the first sign of fire. This year the contract upgrades from two to three Boeing CH-47 Chinook Very Large Helitankers, a Sikorsky S-76 intelligence and recon helicopter, along with all the flight and maintenance crews.

“Our goal to keep all new wildfires to 10 acres or less 95% of the time is not possible without the most state-of-the-art fleet of firefighting aircraft in the world,” Orange County Fire Authority Chief Brian Fennessy said of Coulson’s helicopters. “That is exactly what the QRF is, and its year-round availability is a significant step in fighting what has become a year-round season of potentially deadly and destructive wildfires in Southern California and beyond.”

Coulson’s CH-47 Chinook Very Large Helitankers are equipped with Coulson’s own RADS-L delivery system, the largest fixed helicopter tank in the world at 3,000 gallons and can “hover fill” in 90 seconds. Coulson also designed and manufactured the largest retractable snorkel, allowing for the quickest return to the fire line. The aircraft operate at night with pilots using night vision goggles (NVG) and receive additional “eye-in-the-sky” support from the Sikorsky S-76 intelligence and recon helicopter. During last year’s contract, Coulson dropped more than 700,000 gallons of water on more than 25 wildfires with over half that under the cover of darkness.

While contracted to the county fire departments, the aircraft will also be available to support partner fire departments within SCE’s 50,000-square-mile service area.

On July 10, Coulson participated in a demonstration of the QRF’s operations with a water drop at the Santa Fe Dam in Irwindale, Calif.


Coulson Aviation is a global leader in aerial support operations. Throughout the company’s 60+ years as an organization, the mission has remained the same: to protect the world from forest fires. Our organizational capabilities allow our team to provide simultaneous aerial support across numerous continents. Learn more…