By Joe Nelson, The Sun
Posted: 02/25/14, 1:30 PM PST | Updated: 5 hrs ago

SAN BERNARDINO >> County supervisors on Tuesday approved an $11.6 million, 25-year lease agreement with San Bernardino International Airport for more than 61,000 square feet of space that will house the sheriff’s aviation division when it relocates from Rialto Airport next year.

If all goes according to schedule, the sheriff’s aviation division, which has been housed at Rialto Airport since 1971, hopes to be moved in at San Bernardino and operational in January or February 2015. The new facility will consolidate the division’s emergency operations and aviation and volunteer forces units,

“This is a huge step in the right direction for us,” Sheriff John McMahon said Tuesday.

The move will allow sheriff’s aviation 24-hour fueling service at San Bernardino International. At Rialto Airport, where sheriff’s aviation has operated since 1971, the Sheriff’s Department had to purchase its aviation fuel off site and have it hauled in because the fuel pumps at Rialto were not certified, McMahon said.

In addition, the entire sheriff’s fleet of aircraft will be housed under one roof at SBIA as opposed to fixed wing aircraft being housed at San Bernardino and helicopters at Rialto as is the current situation, McMahon said.

The Sheriff’s Department houses another of its helicopters at Apple Valley Airport for air patrols and emergencies in the High Desert. That aircraft will stay put, McMahon said.

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