Washington state DNR has 25 firefighting aircraft this year

Air Tanker 260
Air Tanker 260 scooping water at Castaic Lake December 6, 2017 . Photo by Robert Schwemmer.

The Washington State Department of Natural Resources does not have any large air tankers on contract for firefighting this year, but they will have 25 other aircraft working on exclusive use (EU) or hybrid call when needed (CWN) contracts.

Russ Lane, the DNR’s Assistant Wildfire Division Manager for Operations and Aviation, told Fire Aviation that this year they will have their agency’s nine UH-1H helicopters and one from Chelan County Fire Department that they lease and operate. They will also hire a tanked UH-1 that will be supplied by High Performance Helicopters Corp. on a 60-day Mandatory Availability Period (MAP) call when needed contract.

Washington State DNR UH-1H helicopter
Washington State DNR UH-1H helicopter. DNR photo.

They will have two Type 1 helicopters on 89-day EU contracts — a tanked UH-60 from High Performance and a KMAX from Columbia Basin Helicopters.

Multi engine water scoopers
Currently the DNR has two Aero-Flite CL-415’s working; T-260 and T-262. On July 9 a Bridger Aerospace CL-415EAF, Tanker 283, came on duty fresh from the paint shop and carding. A second Bridger Aerospace CL-415EAF, Tanker 284, is expected on July 27. All four were picked up on CWN with 60-day MAPs. (More about the CL-415EAF aircraft.)

Tanker 283, CL-415EAF, N418BT
Tanker 283, CL-415EAF, N418BT. Bridger Aerospace photo.

Single-engine Air Tractor 802F water scoopers 
Three amphibious scoopers from Dauntless and two from Air Spray are working now.

Air Attack
There are two AC-500 air attack ships on 89-day EU contracts, and one “surge” Kodiak from Bridger Aerospace on a 60-day MAP CWN arrangement.

Air Tractor AT-802F Fire Boss. Air Tractor photo.
Air Tractor 802F Fire Boss. Air Tractor image.

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11 thoughts on “Washington state DNR has 25 firefighting aircraft this year”

    1. with russ lane’s incredible leadership on full display im sure it’ll just be the most seamless operation of all time

  1. Yet there was a 737 tanker, probably Coulsen’s hitting the Andrus fire near Spokane. No VLTs?

    1. Do you happen to know what Series the 737 was? Any idea on the total cycles or hours on the A/C? How long since the last “Commercial C-Check”?

      I only ask because we all know how important these numbers are. I have seen to many B-727’s and C-9’s performing aerial attack and safety is my concern.

        1. Bill, it was several years ago and the aircraft I saw had, what appeared to be, the distinct 3rd engine in the tail.

          Though, as of now, I stand corrected, my posts are more about safety. Thus, I am interested in the MD Mad Dogs or other high time former commercial aircraft being used which undoubtedly have more hours/cycles on them than would be desired. As a former Naval Aviator, I am sure you are aware of the metallurgy ramifications involved.

          So, getting my facts straight as you worded it, was caused by distance and the prevailing smoke in the air.


  2. Thanks for the article and discussion, I have been lucky to fight wildfires in a UH60 for years and my reaction is always how much the entire operation costs to combat fires from the air. My question is have you ever seen an analysis where a break even point is examined by applying similar funds to better forest management (prevention) versus the cost of fighting them? Thanks and look forward to hearing from you.

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