8 thoughts on “DC-10 drop on the Smith Fire in Arizona”

    1. Not knowing the exact conditions they were facing, this may have been very cost-effective. I’ve searched and can’t find it, but earlier this spring I read a case study in which an IC on a relatively small fire had requested SEATs, but was offered a VLAT because it was closer. He turned it down, because he’d been told not to use large and expensive resources on small fires. Turns out, it took long enough for the SEATs to arrive that the fire grew and grew, and required multiple drops, ultimately costing more money and creating more risk than if the VLAT had been able to hem it in and stop it on one mission, and turning a one-day fire into several days, increasing costs and risks to personnel beyond what it would likely have been if the “big, expensive” tool had been used on the small fire. So a VLAT may look like overkill on a fire that doesn’t look that terrible, but may really be the right tool if it stops a fire while it’s small and prevents a large, extended incident.

  1. Excessive? You wouldn’t think so if your property was burning. We need 747’s dropping retardant as well as DC 10’s. Bigger and more the better!

  2. Ok. IA with a VLAT, cool.

    Lets get rid of all the S-2’s, SEATS, etc…and just use VLATs for everything since they put on a good show for news clips and youtube.

    1. The VLAT drops approxiamately at a 4 to 1 ratio compared to Heavy air tankers, and approx. 14 to 1 ratio compared to SEATs. The Smith fire was one of eight lightning caused fires which occurred simultaneously near each other. The fire was a threat to a nearby subdivision. Fire activity, direction and speed of spread were sometimes unpredictable on this incident due to a heavy load of fine fuels and nearby thunderstorms. There was competition for heavy air tankers on other incidents and SEATs that were ordered for the incident could not initially fly from their bases (which were 50 miles and 70 miles from the incident) due to weather. The decision was made to utilize the VLAT due to it’s capacity to put retardant at the fire faster than a heavy air tanker and SEATs (when they became available) that were ordered for the incident. It was determined that the VLAT would be effective in the terrain the fire was in. For those concerned about costs, the cost of the VLAT drop on this incident was less than a combination of SEATs and heavies which would have been required for the fire.

        1. With the initial rate of spread a subdivision was threatened….I understand it would be hard for anyone who wasn’t there to know that.

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