After a two-year hiatus from hosting the aerial firefighting show in the United States, Tangent Link’s Aerial Fire Fighting North America returned to San Diego, ready to follow on from the success of the 2021 show held in Tallinn, Estonia.
The convention was held on March 22-23, 2022, just outside downtown San Diego at the Town and Country Resort. AerialFire hosted its opening reception “Mixer” the day before the floor opened, setting the tone for the event to be one of sharing of best practices, successes, failures, and new products to the market that would make the job of fighting fires from the air an easier one.
During the dozens of presentations throughout the two-day show, the underlying message repeated by city, state, and county fire leadership that spoke throughout, was that we can still do a better job of providing aerial firefighting services and fighting the fires themselves.
Several presentations focused on what county and state-level agencies are doing outside the norm—showcasing operations like Orange County’s Quick Reaction Force headed by fire chief Brian Fennessy. The QRF operation partners with Coulson aviation to provide County fire resources, combined with several Coulson resources that include the CU-47 Chinook and S-76 helicopters that can fight fires during both day and night operations, which provides around the clock firefighting that is still not a widely adopted practice despite its apparent benefits.
Other industry challenges included discussions on pilot shortages and what the industry needs to do to address that inevitable shortfall that will likely negatively impact the industry if steps are not taken in due course.
The show floor was expectedly busy, with over 300 attendees moving between sessions and the show floor, where the best in products for the aerial firefighting industry were on display. The floor exhibits included everything from advanced life support helmet solutions provided by Paraclete, to firefighting bucket and tank solutions from Helitak, Recoil, SEI Industries, and Valfirest, to retardant delivery options from Perimeter Solutions, Fortress, and Blazetamer.
Also in attendance were many new companies looking to provide services to the aerial firefighting industry options, from UAS solutions to night vision capabilities and enhanced vision systems. Also in attendance were options for MRO services, airport services, fire gates, aircraft sales, and manufacture.
OEMs and fire service providers were a significant presence in the exhibit hall, including vendors that provide domestic and international firefighting services such as Coulson, Bridger Aerospace, Conair, Neptune, and many other businesses that spent their time exhibiting speaking to customers; both new and existing.
The large contingent of exhibitors and the quality session content continue the collaboration between agencies and the private sector that make up the industry, proving another successful Tangent Link run Aerial Firefighting North America.
As with previous events, the show culminated in the Walt Darren Aerial Firefighting award presented to Mike Lynn of Conair for his decades of service and dedication to developing pilots within the industry. The award was presented by members of the Darren family, along with presenter and AerialFire contributor Dan Reese, at the gala dinner held at the Town and Country on Tuesday the 23rd of March.
As with previous years’ events, the sentiment from attendees was one of gratitude that the show had finally returned stateside once again to allow for another year of sharing of ideas, round table discussions that provide needed resources, and discussion amongst agencies that may not otherwise share experiences, best practices, and lessons learned in the field with each other.
Unlike other years where the show rotates between the United States and Europe, 2022 will see the addition of a combined aerial firefighting and search and rescue show held by Tangent Link May 18-20 in France, supported by the French Government to be held at the Sécurité Civile base in Nîmes.
See below for images from the show.