A few hours before the 800-acre Galena Fire started on Friday west of Fort Collins, Colorado, two state lawmakers were quoted as saying they were going to introduce a bill in the legislature directing the state to develop their own aerial firefighting fleet. According to the Coloradoan, soon after the fire started before noon on March 15 firefighters requested air tankers but none were available.
Senators Steve King and Cheri Jahn plan to introduce a bill this week that would create a program similar to those in the states of California and Oregon which have their own fleets of aerial firefighting assets.
“We are pushing our luck when we think that the federal government will come flying in to save Colorado when it’s burning,” Senator King told 7NEWS.
Below is an excerpt from an article at Denver’s CBS4 which was published at 9:54 a.m. on March 15 just before the Galena Fire started:
“People have said ‘Oh my gosh, how in world will you ever pay for that? Oh my gosh, how can you make this?’ You know what, we can either keep saying that for the years to come or we can take hold of it and say ‘This incredible idea and we need to figure out how to make it work,’ ” Jahn said.
One idea is to make it a public-private partnership.
“Can you imagine what advertising value would be if you had a Colorado Rockies sign on tail of slurry bomber?” King said.
If the state were unrestrained by federal rules, pilots of state air tankers might be able to do night drops sometimes, which federal pilots don’t do now.
“We have night vision goggles. We have GPS. We have all sorts of technology that the federal government does not even recognize or allow their firefighters to use,” King said.
When the Waldo Canyon Fire erupted in Colorado Springs last year there were 29 other large fires burning throughout the country and nine large air tankers to fight them all. With 4 million acres of dead trees in Colorado, the danger of another waldo canyon isn’t going away.
UPDATE: We started a contest for Photoshopped images of aircraft with advertising.