Colorado’s Division of Fire Prevention and Control has provided a few more details about their aerial firefighting resources for this year. According to their 2014 Wildfire Preparedness Plan, dated April 24, 2014:
- They will “procure and operate two fixed-wing multi-mission aircraft”, in order to provide an incident assessment for every fire within 60 minutes of the report or detection.
- They will “procure and operate four multi-mission rotor-wing aircraft”. The helicopters will be able to transport helitack crews and carry water or retardant.
- The state will increase the number of contracted Single Engine Air Tankers from two to four.
The term “procure” is vague, and could mean they will either purchase or contract for the use of the aircraft. Previous information led us to believe they would purchase the two fixed wing multi-mission aircraft and contract for the four helicopters.
[UPDATE, May 15, 2014: One of our loyal readers, Bean, talked to with Paul Cooke, director of the Colorado Department of Fire Prevention and Control, at a meeting recently, and Director Cooke confirmed that they expect to purchase the two fixed wing multi-mission aircraft and contract for the four helicopters and the SEATs.]
On May 12 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed the legislation recently passed by the House and the Senate that authorizes the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps (CFAC) to acquire a fleet of helicopters and air tankers to fight wildfires.
The complete text from the section of the 2014 Wildfire Preparedness Plan that covers aerial firefighting is below.
“Aerial Firefighting Resources
DFPC will develop and manage the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps (CFAC) that will provide for availability of appropriate aerial firefighting equipment and personnel at times of both high and fire risk to respond to a wildfire.
The 2014 plan for CFAC aerial firefighting resources will be based on wildfire risk and need, as well as available funding, and may include any number of potential arrangements. To the degree practicable and possible, the minimum deployment of CFAC aerial firefighting resources will be:
Multi-Mission Fixed-Wing Aircraft – In order achieve the goal of generating an incident assessment for every fire within 60 minutes of report or detection of a wildfire Colorado should procure and operate two fixed-wing multi-mission aircraft.
These aircraft should be equipped with modern sensing, processing, and communication systems to allow for the gathering and dissemination of real-time wildfire information. The multi-mission aircraft should be integrated into the state’s wildfire information management system to allow all data to be immediately available to wildfire managers across the state.
Rotor-Wing Multi-Mission Aircraft – In order achieve the goal of providing the appropriate aviation suppression resources to every fire within 60 minutes of the request Colorado should procure and operate four multi-mission rotor-wing aircraft.
These aircraft should be capable of operating in Colorado’s high altitude and hot temperature environments. The rotor-wing aircraft should be capable of delivering wildfire suppression personnel (helitack crews) to remote locations to facilitate initial attack missions. The rotor-wing aircraft should also be able to carry water or retardant to remote locations in order to support ground-based suppression teams.
Single Engine Air Tankers (SEATs) – In order achieve the goal of providing the appropriate aviation suppression resources to every fire within 60 minutes of the request and to increase the effectiveness of the SEAT program, it is proposed that Colorado increase the exclusive-use SEAT contract to four aircraft in 2014.
For the past several years, Colorado procured SEATs on an annual exclusive-use contract basis during the wildland fire season. Typically, the contract has been for two SEATs with an option for a third if needed. SEATs are very effective in lighter fuel types such as grass and brush and are most effective during initial attack operations if used as a quick response resource. The efficiency and effectiveness of SEATs is increased if they are located in close proximity to the incident and integrated with ground resources as a support tool.
DFPC will also ensure the maintenance of process for ordering and dispatching aerial firefighting equipment and personnel that is consistent with, and supportive of, the statewide mobilization plan prepared pursuant to Section 24-33.5-705.4, C.R.S. DFPC will provide the technical assistance and program management that identifies local, county, and state resources; their qualification to national standards; and their listing in interagency zone dispatch centers and in the Colorado Statewide Resource Mobilization System.
Principal funding for CFAC will be from the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps Fund created in Section 24-33.5-1228 (3) (a), C.R.S. The estimated total program costs for 2014 are $19,670,000.”
Thanks and a hat tip go out to Bean.