Refueling for HFD copters gets easier
The Honolulu Fire Department will continue refueling helicopters in the field rather than flying to Honolulu Airport for fuel.
That is because it will no longer cost public safety agencies additional taxes to take fuel from Honolulu Airport for helicopters to the site of an emergency. Officials from U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye's office announced yesterday a special permanent waiver for public safety agencies on Oahu.
HFD officials stopped refueling helicopters in the field because they could not use a fuel truck to transport aviation fuel from Honolulu Airport without paying taxes on its fuel of more than 20 cents per gallon.
The Fire Department ran into problems with refueling while using its helicopter weekly to drop water on a number of Leeward Oahu brush fires this summer. Fire officials said this meant that instead of refueling its chopper in the field from the department's fuel tender, the helicopter crew would have to take off for the airport, sometimes not returning for almost an hour.
An appeal to Inouye's office resulted in a temporary exemption from the higher taxes on Aug. 17 so that the Fire Department could use its tender apparatus at the airport until the permanent waiver was granted yesterday.
"I am pleased that the Internal Revenue Service agreed to administratively modify the excise tax code," said Inouye in a press release yesterday. This "will enable the Fire Department to effectively fight brush fires, as well as conduct search and rescue missions at sea or on our mountains."