AFNORTH responds to Rocky Mountain, Southwest region wildfires

6/25/2012 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. – Under the direction of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander (JFACC) for Air Forces Northern (AFNORTH) here, four C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with fire fighting capabilities were activated to assist in wildfire suppression in the Rocky Mountain and Southwest regions.

The U.S. Forest Service requested and U.S. Northern Command approved the deployment and employment of four Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) C-130 aircraft on Sunday.

Two MAFFS aircraft are coming from the 153rd Airlift Wing in Cheyenne, Wyo., and two aircraft are from the 302nd Airlift Wing in Colorado Springs, Colo. The aircraft will be operating from Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. MAFFS are important because they provide a “surge” capability that is used to boost wildfire suppression efforts when commercial airtankers are fully committed or not readily available.

AFNORTH is the air component for U.S. Northern Command and when tasked, provides support to local, state, tribal, regional and federal emergency service agencies.

The Department of Defense is flying at the request of the National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group (NMAC) at the National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) in Boise, Idaho, and has a long-standing effective partnership with NIFC. In fact, from 2002 to 2011, military C-130s with MAFFS systems have delivered a total of approximately 7.7 million gallons of retardant on wildfires. This effort is part of a long-standing relationship between DoD, NIFC and local authorities to work together to provide timely and effective containment actions.

NIFC assigns the aircraft to geographic area coordination centers which then assign them to specific wildfires. Once deployed to support wildland firefighting efforts, DoD assets are employed as determined by the requesting civil authority. Dispatch centers deploy aircraft to drop retardant based on requests from civilian Incident Commanders.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five 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.

Article source: http://www.1af.acc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123307317

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