Colorado creates Firefighting Air Corps

On Wednesday Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill, Senate Bill 245, that created the Colorado Firefighting Air Corps. The Corps is organized within the Department of Public Safety in the Division of Fire Prevention and Control. There was no money associated with the passage of the bill, so until funds are appropriated, it will apparently exist in name only.

If the state does come up with some funding, according to the legislation:

The Division may purchase, acquire, lease, or contract for the provision of firefighting aircraft, facilities, equipment, and supplies for aerial firefighting; and retrofit, maintain, staff, operate, and support the firefighting aircraft or contract for the provision of those services.

In a related story, on Monday, Nebraska Governor Dave Heineman signed into law LB 634, the Wildfire Control Act of 2013 which authorizes the state to contract for one Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT).

You may remember that one of the sponsors of the Colorado bill, State Senator Steve King, had an idea to help defray some of the costs of the program:

Can you imagine what advertising value would be if you had a Colorado Rockies sign on the tail of slurry bomber?

So we sponsored a competition for designs showing potential advertising and asked our readers to vote on their preferred choice. The one below by Jerome Laval is the leader in the poll, which is still open.

Jerome Laval P3



Thanks go out to Bean

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6 thoughts on “Colorado creates Firefighting Air Corps”

  1. If they are smart maybe they will contract this out and not try what CAL FIRE has done with its own fleet. I don’t think that Colorado can justify having their own fleet of fire fighting aircraft. If they contract this out hopefully Neptune will bid on it and win the contract. 2 or more 146s in Colorado could be a good thing for the state. There will be a lot if planning involved in all of this though.

  2. It WILL require a lot of planning.

    The problem will be if too many politcos get in in on with lofty expectations (their self perceived expectations) without nary an understanding of CLEAN contract operations, one standard aviation contract template at the National and State level.

    Too much time is spent monkeying around with State “individual contracts” and their own (again perceived) and wanting their own State brand on things. There ought to be a ONE standard contract throughout the nation. No one State rally has it one up on the other as of yet when it come to contracting aircraft….some folks will say their contract process is seamless….and truly….they really are not.

    Do not see the problem with CALFire, there, Matt. They sure have seem to make GOCO work and the contract crews. Whereas this USFS / USDOI aviation world has added so many layers of “Aviation Management” to the program…well, the more paper and computer programs you add to the program…..aircraft are sure NOT to fly…as evidenced by the last 550+ days to 30 years that these folks have proven getting an organized contract together free of protest, make sure money is available for the design of tanking aircraft, contract out to engineering firms with CATIA or CAD systems to see if tanking can be done to all these “Next Gen” ideas purported by the USFS, leave the industry do its own work, as it has. Maybe all those “genius computer programs” at the USFS and DOI could be burning the midnight oyl desigining alllll sorts of tankers for every airframe system in the world. That would be some true aviation management using gov owned computers designing their own purported systems. The USFS gets all the tanking data designed and built at their costs, since it is their forests and rangelands.

    Then the operators get their STCs approved, USFS and contractors meet together, lets say Pinal Air Park, AZ, bolt the tanks in and go fight fire. Then end of season, unbolt tanks, operators do their 100 hr inspections, Annual Inspections, Progressives, A-D checks, or pickup some other work to make the bank payments during the winter. Cuz, God knows, after these last two years of aircraft contracts, the banks can not even afford to own aircraft

    Makes CALFire look like an organized operation…………..
    Maybe CO can not justify its own fleet.

    Maybe a consortium of airtankers for CO, SD, NE, MT is in order, huh?
    Oh and if that becomes an idea….pls give credit to where it is due….right here..

    Otherwise prove to me that idea(s) has already be floated around

  3. I think any option is workable but until Colorado comes up with the money, it is only a talking point.

    I have seen government contract operations work, government owned contractor operated and maintained like Calfire, and government owned and operated utilizing contract maintenance and logistics.

    In each case, the thing in common with successful operations was that everybody involved wanted the contract to work and there was strong leadership in place guiding and directing the contract.

  4. Just wondering why lotto funds can’t be used to buy some SEATS.
    The Co. lotto was set up to beautify Colorado. Why not buy some
    single engine air tankers with those funds to keep the beauty we
    already have.

    1. Amy,

      By law, the Lotto funds cannot be directly transferred to the State General Fund. Air tanker’s operated by the DFPS would be a general fund issue. Best bet is to write your State senator and representative and ask them to fund the bill in the next legislative session. Colorado can afford the tankers if it wants to pay for them.

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