We ran across the following article in an Air Force newsletter published June 21, 2013 at Robins Air Force Base in Georgia.
Robins supports fire suppression capabilities
BY JENNY GORDON
jenny.gordon at robins.af.mil
While the Black Forest, Colo., fire was small when it started June 11, it eventually scorched more than 14,000 acres and took the work of more than 600 people to get it under control.
The Air Force was among those listed to help.
It’s efforts included the use of the U.S. Forest Service-owned program known as MAFFS, or Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System.
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that fits inside special C-130 aircraft without requiring structural modification, which allows them to be loaded quickly.
At the Warner Robins Air Logistics Complex, one of its missions is programmed depot maintenance of C-130s. In all, four Air Force units have aircraft equipped with the firefighting system, including the 302nd Airlift Wing, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.
The MAFFS program is supported in another way at Robins by way of engineering support and troubleshooting.
“Our responsibility is to ensure the air-worthiness and safety of the C-130s using the MAFFS system,” said Barry Bunn, Tactical Airlift Division chief engineer.
That responsibility includes making sure the equipment is safe and in proper working condition, including its tubing and tanks.
A small team of engineers here can go out to an aircraft to test the equipment, but most of the oversight is done through up-front design reviews and testing which ensures the system can operate safely and is properly secured within the plane.
A recent example of a project was the addition of grounding wires to the MAFFS-equipped C-130s. When fire retardant is discharged out of the system, a nozzle extends. To err on the safe side, previous restrictions had been placed on how close a plane could fly to a thunderstorm. This is important because there are times when a plane may have to fly near a storm in order to quickly get to a fire.
The new grounding wires now provide additional safety measures which allow the aircraft to safely fly closer to storms as needed.
Robins also successfully performed a permanent modification to radios that are used on the aircraft when communicating with emergency personnel and Forest Service.
The project involves 32 aircraft, and provides a standardized installation, according to Robert Siperko, C-130 Modification program manager.
Aircraft that use MAFFS will soon be equipped with the same layout for all radios; all the wiring will be the same and radios will be installed in the same location.
Two Air Force Reserve Command C-130s and air crews from the 302nd Airlift Wing supported the Colorado firefighting efforts out of Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., earlier this month.