Firebomber Publications Blog

Wildfire News Of The Day (the Archer Copywriting blog) provides comprehensive international wildfire news. Subscribers include over 10,000 personnel from fire agencies, contractors, and government entities on five continents. "BEST NEWSLETTER I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY 32 YEARS IN THE FIRE SERVICE" - San Diego Fire Department Chief Brian Fennessy.

Thursday, December 29, 2005

WILL THERE BE ANY AIR-TANKERS NEXT SUMMER?

Wildfires have been raging across Texas and Oklahoma this week, leaving death and devastation in their paths, as reported in the Washington Post (5 Die In Texas, Okla. Fires). State governments have appealed to federal authorities to provide air-tanker support to combat the blazes and the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has sent in heavy air-tankers, along with helicopters and SEATs (Single-Engine Air Tankers). But what if, instead of responding quickly to the request, the USFS had replied 'Sorry, we can't comply due to lack of funds'? This could be the scenario if a proposal put forth by the USFS goes into effect (see a previous entry on my blog for the unedited internal USFS memo). Air-tanker pilots I have talked with have expressed concern that this may indeed be the scenario if the proposed budget cuts are put into effect as stipulated in this memo. They forsee the federal air-tanker fleet being grounded by June 2006 when the funds run out (since only about half the usual funds will be available), just as the fire season really gets going. Since continued drought is projected for the southwest, will Texas and Oklahoma be able to receive any assistance from the USFS when the wildfires come back next year, or will they have to ante up the money themselves in order to get the planes back into the air?
 
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