1. #1
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Feb 2003

    Unhappy Nevada gets only 1 air tanker

    by John Tyson, john.tyson@kolotv.com

    RENO -- Nevada firefighters will have to make do this coming fire season with just one, large air tanker.

    The entire national fleet is being cut by 25 percent. Government managers say that many of the aging military surplus planes in the fleet are no longer safe for firefighting duty.

    But the cost of replacing the older planes may be too expensive. There is a stopgap measure in place by way of single-engine agricultural crop dusters that have been modified to carry 800 gallons of retardant.

    Nevada is slated to get four of these so-called "air tractors" to supplement the one heavy tanker that reportedly will be stationed in Battle Mountain. But it is not a suitable solution, and that does have fire managers worried.

    When a C-130 crashed while fighting a wildfire near Walker, California, it also took the future of the country's airtanker fleet with it. Of the 33 planes in service, 25 percent of them, including the C-130's, were retired for fear they too would fall apart due to structural failure.

    The problem is, there is nothing new and tough enough to take the place of the old military veterans. So the Bureau of Land Management and U.S. Forest Service will utilize AT-802 air tractors this coming season. No, they can't measure up to what was once the cream of the crop, but fire managers say.for now, it's better than nothing.

    "They're not the answer to fill those holes in the large air tanker program," says BLM aviation manager Greg Gall. "But it's an adjustment for now until a firmer and final resolution can be made."

    Still, fire managers are chewing their fingernails up to their elbows worrying about what might happen without the big guys. There are more and more people moving into the interface areas, increasing the danger of property loss and human loss to wildfire. As one fire manger says, this is a lousy time to lose invaluable resources.

    "We've seen our winds in the summertime when the fire gets going," Gall says. "Once it gets to a large size, nothing replaces that air tanker."

    One alternative is a plan to design and build larger aircraft for air tanker service, like Canada did with the Canadiair tankers. The cost? $20 million per plane. Right now, with budget restraints, that doesn't seem like a viable option.

    John Tyson is an experienced volunteer wildland firefighter in Storey County.

  2. #2
    Junior Member

    Join Date
    Oct 2002

    Default 1 tanker not enough

    Last year I meet John at the Cannon Fire. He was helping drag hose up the side of a hill. We had helio's help our line and tankers painting the other side of the cannon. Then they were all gone and over the radio it was stated a Tanker was down. And then a Tender rolled. And we lost our line. This year will be worse. I live out in a rural area and we get tankers alot faster then a Strike Team or any mutual aid.
    We need more than one. dvincent@lyon-county.org

  3. #3
    MembersZone Subscriber

    Join Date
    Jan 2003


    HOLY SMOKES!! Only 1 freakin tanker!!?? Isn't there some funding or something that they can get for getting another tanker for the year? I mean, (2) doesn't even seem like enough air support. The Walker fire was where the tanker's wings just came off wasn't it? Shortly before that we loast (2) when they had a mid-air collision. So, it was a rather sickening thing to hear when I heard it. I mean to lose ANYone or thing is sickening enough. Tankers however are an intricate part of wildland ops. I am just sitting here dazed and confused as to HOW Nevada couldn't get thier hands on at LEAST one more. I have a feeling that this year is going to be one for the books. Even though the drought maps don't really indicate it for NorCal, I still have that nagging feeling. I will hope that something comes positive out of this, otherwise to our Nevada bretheren, KEEP SAFE. LCES!!

  4. #4
    Forum Member
    RxFire's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 1999

    Default All is not lost

    There is still heavy tanker support for NV, as well as the rest of the west, but there'll be heavy competition for their time. If there is just the one heavy in Stead or Minden, there I believe will be one in Boise to help cover Northern NV, and then I think Phoenix AZ for Southern NV. In my S-270 class the other week, the instructors were saying that the P-3's are faster than the jump ships. It looks like we'll just have more acres burned, and if we get a heavy for non-WUI fire, it'll get yanked immediately for any new starts threatening homes.
    The SEATs work good, and are better than nothing.
    Stopping controlled burning DOES NOT stop the burning, only the control!

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