Five of British Columbia’s newest firefighting aircraft were deployed to the Northwest Territories on Sunday morning to assist with wildfire suppression in the Hay River area.
The airtanker group consists of a Cessna Grand Caravan bird dog aircraft and four Air Tractor AT-802F “Fire Boss” amphibious airtankers. Given the current and forecasted provincial fire situation, sufficient personnel and resources remain in British Columbia to respond appropriately to any wildfire activity.
The deployment to the Northwest Territories was in response to a request from the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre. The aircraft can be recalled at any time if they are needed to fight fires in B.C. All associated costs are covered by the jurisdiction requesting the resources.
The Fire Boss and Grand Caravan aircraft are operated under contract by the Conair Group and joined the province’s expanding fleet of aerial firefighting resources this spring to support firefighting crews on the ground. See photos of the new airtankers at: http://ow.ly/yIBpW
Capable of working as a land-based aircraft or as a float plane, the Fire Boss can skim water from nearby water sources to continue fighting a fire without having to return to base. The Fire Boss can load up to 3,025 litres of water in 12 to 15 seconds and be back on its way to the fire line in less than 30 seconds.
Fire retardant, foam and water are dropped by aircraft to slow the growth of a wildfire. Depending on the requirements of the mission, water can be mixed with foam inside the aircraft. This delays evaporation of the water and helps it penetrate deeper into the ground. The new airtanker can also carry red-coloured fire retardant, which is loaded on the aircraft before it takes off and helps suffocate the fire and slow its spread. These different mixtures are not used to put out a fire directly, but instead cool it down and assist ground crews in containing the blaze.
The targeting accuracy of these aircraft allows firefighting crews to take a more aggressive approach to fighting a fire.
On June 9, 2014, the new airtanker group flew its first-ever mission in support of ground crews fighting a fire near Schroeder Creek, 13 kilometres north of Kaslo. The planes dropped 222,361 litres of water and foam on the fire in just 75 minutes and the mission was a complete success.
This highly mobile airtanker group is normally based in Revelstoke, but it is routinely repositioned to high-priority locations as dictated by current fire danger indicators. The aircraft were stationed in Campbell River last week.
Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson -
“I’m excited to see this multi-aircraft group join our firefighting fleet. It’s efficient and responsive because it can be deployed quickly, operate from over 1,700 bodies of water in B.C., and the group can be split up and repositioned as needed to attack multiple fires simultaneously.”
- Foam is a fire suppressant that is similar to dishwashing soap and is applied to fires to slow their growth. When dropped from the air, the foam covers a wide area and helps limit the spread of the fire. Foam improves the effectiveness of water two ways: it helps the water soak deeper and more quickly into forest fuels (e.g. wood, brush, wood debris) and it slows the evaporation of the water held within the foam.
- The Cessna Grand Caravan bird dog carries a pilot and an Air Attack Officer. The Air Attack Officer provides strategic and tactical communications to: establish and maintain air traffic control; complete an initial fire assessment; formulate a fire attack plan; determine resource requirements; check the viability of airtanker bombing runs; direct airtanker bombing runs; and assess the effectiveness of aerial attacks.
For the latest information on fire activity, conditions and prohibitions, visit the Wildfire Management Branch website at: www.bcwildfire.ca
You can also follow the latest wildfire news:
- On Twitter at: http://twitter.com/BCGovFireInfo
- On Facebook at: http://facebook.com/BCForestFireInfo
Provincial Fire Information Officer
Wildfire Management Branch
Ministry of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations