Orange County Fire Authority, Sheriff's Department repair relationship with joint operations plan

MISSION VIEJO, Calif. (KABC) -- The Orange County Fire Authority and Orange County Sheriff's Department said they're starting fresh by entering into a new joint operations plan for their helicopters to better serve the community.

It's a far cry from the tension during a rescue in January, when Duke 6, Orange County Sheriff's Department's chopper, was asked to cancel.

It was just one of the many in-air squabbles between the agencies' helicopters over the last two years. But officials said that stops now. The new plan calls for the sheriff chopper to take the lead on criminal activity and search-and-rescue operations.

The fire authority will be in charge of on pavement medical responses and fires.

"We are working together to complement capabilities, fill in gaps and serve as a force multiplier," Sheriff Sandra Hutchens said.

The drama between the two agencies got so bad the Orange County Grand Jury released a report, citing concerns of delays in patient care because of the fighting.

We're told they worked together during the Holy Fire and the relationship continues to build - even working toward moving their bases together.

"We cannot afford in Orange County to have our guns and our hoses fighting each other in the air," Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer said.

The new joint operating plan became effective immediately. There is no timeline for the co-location plan.
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