Mobility Air Force C-130s to continue legacy of fighting forest fires

Mobility Air Force C-130s to continue legacy of fighting forest fires

24 April 2013

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USA — As the National Interagency Fire Center reports increasing fire danger for parts of the west and southwest, and portions of the U.S. Central and South regions, Mobility Air Forces will continue to help fight forest fires, as they have for more than four decades.

“Having worked through significant budget cutbacks, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft units, which fly with the Modular Airborne Firefighting System, remain prepared to support the U.S. Forest Service this year,” said Lt. Col. Jeff Grimes, AMC airlift training branch chief.

Last year was a challenging year fighting fires. Just in Colorado Springs alone more than 30,000 residents and the Air Force Academy were evacuated after the Pike National Forest fire burned 23 square miles. More than 1,400 firefighters fought the fire and all four Air Force MAFFS units responded.

In preparation for this year’s firefighting season one of those MAFFS units, the 302nd Airlift Wing, based at Peterson AFB, Colo., held its annual MAFFS certification for C-130 aircrews April 19-23.

“We are providing annual MAFFS certification training for all four units and if our assistance is requested, we will provide fully-qualified aircrews prepared to support firefighting operations,” Grimes said.

MAFFS is an interagency program designed to provide additional aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the forest service. This effort is part of a long-standing relationship between the DoD, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Interagency Fire Center and local authorities that began in the early 1970s.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than 5 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

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