On May 12 Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper will sign 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 Governor will host a press conference at 11 a.m. at the Centennial Airport where he will sign the bill and give his annual wildfire briefing.
Colorado Senate Bill 14-164 appropriates $19.67 million and specifies that the CFAC purchase, lease, or contract for the use and operation of up to three helicopters in 2014. Beginning in 2015 and beyond the bill authorizes up to four air tankers.
The first version of the bill required certain specifications for the aircraft, including that the helicopters be able to carry 18 passengers and be capable of rappelling firefighters. The air tankers would have been outfitted for dropping retardant at night, something that has never been done on a regular basis.
The bill that passed both the House and the Senate provides maximum numbers of aircraft, but leaves everything else up to the CFAC. The bill requires that the agency adhere as nearly as possible to the recommendations spelled out in a report they released on March 28, titled “Special report: Colorado Firefighting Air Corps, report to the Governor and General Assembly on Strategies to enhance the state’s aerial firefighting capabilities”.
The legislation also creates a “center of excellence for advanced technology aerial firefighting”, to…:
- Serve as a laboratory to evaluate the “three fundamental contributing factors to successful aerial firefighting: effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability”.
- Conduct research to evaluate new technology in a variety of settings, such as initial attack, night operations, and operations in wildland-urban interface areas.
- Produce data and documentation on science and technology relevant to aerial firefighting.
The press conference will be held at the Centennial Airport, Denver jetCenter, Hangar A, 7625 South Peoria Circle, Englewood, Colorado 80112.
If any FireAviation readers attend the event do us a favor and send us some photos.