USA — Discussions are underway to change a decades-long restriction that has kept military tankers grounded while firefighters scrambled civilian aircraft to drop slurry on wildfires.
Army Gen. Charles Jacoby, commander of U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, said he’s talking with federal authorities about relaxing the requirement that all civilian resources be exhausted before firefighters can tap the Defense Department’s fleet of C-130 firefighting tankers.
“That is part of the conversation, yes,” said Jacoby, during a press conference with Craig Fugate, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
A law dating back more than 70 years the Economy Act of 1932 and Pentagon policies have kept the Defense Department from activating its fleet of eight C-130 firefighting aircraft until all of the civilian aerial resources have been used.
Airman 1st Class Mike Boucher wipes the windshield of a C-130 air tanker that landed to reload water during a fire fighting training session at Peterson Air Force Base, Monday, April 23, 2012. The training is part of a yearly certification for reserve airmen with the 302nd Airlift Wing.