President signs law to expedite Forest Service acquisition of at least seven next-generation large air tankers
By Summit Voice
SUMMIT COUNTY — Although federal officials have been trumpeting dire warnings about the fire season for several months, they seem to be scrambling at the last minute to marshal firefighting resources.
This week, the the Forest Service said it mobilized eight additional aircraft to ensure that an adequate number of airtankers are available for wildland firefighting efforts. With these additional airtankers, the Forest Service has 16 large airtankers and one very large airtanker available immediately for wildfire suppression. The Forest Service has the capability to mobilize an additional 11 large airtankers, should circumstances require it.
Additionally, the Forest Service and the Department of the Interior fire agencies can mobilize hundreds of helicopters and dozens of smaller aircraft, called “single-engine airtankers.”
And a new law signed Wednesday by President Obama authorizes the Forest Service to expedite its acquisition of at least seven next-generation large air tankers. Senate Bill 3261, passed the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives last week. The president’s signature comes as the U.S. Forest Service this week contracted for additional air tankers and heavy helicopters to use immediately in the current efforts against fires across the West. (more…)