San Joaquin Valley Sun: CAL FIRE to add seven heavy aircraft to fight devastating wildfires. Here’s how it happened.
By Daniel Gligich
California lawmakers have secured major firefighting aircraft for the Golden State that will assist CAL FIRE in fighting wildfires.
The effort took bipartisan support from California and gives the state a significant tool during wildfire season.
The big picture: Congress recently authorized the expedited transfer of seven C-130 aircraft from the Coast Guard to CAL FIRE.
- One C-130 is equivalent to six S-2T Airtankers that CAL FIRE currently uses to deliver fire retardant.
- The C-130 has been in service for over 60 years and has been used as a military aircraft for troop transportation, medical evacuation, search and rescue, weather reconnaissance and other functions.
- C-130s that are already in use are able to drop 3,000 gallons of retardant in less than five seconds.
- Sen. Alex Padilla and Rep. Ken Calvert (R–Corona) introduced the legislation to transfer the aircraft to CAL FIRE.
- The Golden State pair received a strong assist from Sen. John Boozeman (R-Ark.) to garner critical Republican support in the Senate.
What they’re saying: CAL FIRE Director Joe Tyler celebrated the acquisition, saying the aircraft will enhance the state’s firefighting capabilities.
- “These critical assets will aid in reducing the loss of life and property while protecting our natural resources and private timberlands,” Tyler said. “I look forward to these aircraft joining CAL FIRE’s world-renowned aerial firefighting force.”
- Matt Dias, President and CEO of Calforests – a trade association that advocates for California’s forests – said the new aircraft will save lives, improve air quality, protect the forests and reduce carbon emissions.
- “Adding seven C-130s to California’s aerial firefighting force is a truly remarkable advancement,” Dias said. “We must continue to prioritize forest management and wildfire prevention, but vigorous and efficient suppression forces are needed in trying times as well. The force multiplier offered by the addition of these airframes to fire suppression forces is critical. Today is a huge step in that direction.”
- “Six of California’s 10 most destructive wildfires occurred during my eight years as the director of CAL FIRE,” said Ken Pimlott, former director of CAL FIRE. “Preventing and mitigating wildfires requires constant vigilance and an enormous number of resources. Forest management, community planning and a strong fire suppression system are essential. CAL FIRE must be adequately prepared and equipped to meet the threat from wildfires that are increasing in size and intensity, and the transfer of these C-130s to CAL FIRE will significantly strengthen the effectiveness of their response.”
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