"A wise and frugal government which shall restrain men
from injuring one another, which shall leave them otherwise free to regulate their own pursuits of industry and improvement, and shall not take from the mouth of labor the bread it has earned. This is the sum of good government."
(Thomas Jefferson)

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System crews eager to fight fire another day

This picture shows one of the C-130's from yesterday dropping the fire retardant on the Waldo Canyon fire. Four C-130's belong to Peterson AFB in Colorado Springs that were participating in the joint effort with the National Forest Service.  The four C-130's from Peterson crews and support personnel were on duty even when they knew their homes or homes of people they know could be in danger as they continued to do what they do best -- fight the fire from the air to save more homes.  This shows what two agencies, Air Force and National Forest Service, can do when they work together to fight a disaster.

Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System crews eager to fight fire another day

Posted 6/27/2012

by Tech. Sgt. Daniel Butterfield
153rd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs

6/27/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- Members of the 731st Expeditionary Air Squadron arrived during the early morning hours of June 27 to prepare the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System-equipped C-130 Hercules for another day of aerial fire-fighting.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

The day before saw significant MAFFS activity as the four C-130s, two from the Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing and two from the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing dropped 65,000 gallons of Phos-Chek fire retardant in the Rocky Mountain region.

Despite such an active day with so many gallons dropped, the mood was heavy as many of those involved in the operation were local Airmen who have friends and family members who were evacuated the day before. But even with their thoughts on those going through incredible hardships, the members of the 731 EAS were eager to get back into the fight.

"It's a little stressful," said Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd Airlift Wing Chief of Aerial Firefighting. "Some (MAFFS crew members) have evacuees in their home. Some are worried how far the fire is going to go, if it's going to get close to their home, but they are dealing with it."

"We feel almost helpless," said Staff Sgt. Raymond Durban, an avionics technician from the 302nd Maintenance Group, who is assisting with the refilling of the MAFFS units and has co-workers who evacuated. "But we are bearing down and ready to go this morning. We are just waiting for the go-ahead from the (U.S.) Forest Service."

The Waldo Canyon fire grew in size by thousands of acres yesterday due to shifting and increased winds, despite the best efforts of the C-130 aircrews and the entire unified command team.

"We've dropped on a lot of really big fires, but (we've seen nothing) like this as far as close proximity to major cities so you have a little more sense of urgency that we've got to get these drops and get them right the first time," said Maj. Neil Harlow, a pilot with the Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing. "The smoke, especially down at the Waldo Canyon fire, has made it difficult to see the targets."

The first MAFFS-equipped C-130 left Peterson AFB, Colo., June 27 at 9:30 a.m. to again work on the Waldo Canyon fire. They are expected to make drops throughout the day.

In addition to the 153rd and 302nd Airlift Wings, the 146th AW in Channel Islands, Calif., and the 145th AW, in Charlotte, N.C., possess the ability to assist federal, state and local wildland fire-fighting agencies and organizations with MAFFS.

The MAFFS program is a joint effort between the U.S. Forest Service and the Department of Defense.

Wildfire stops moves to Air Force Academy

All permanent change of station orders into and out of the AF Academy have been put on hold by the Military Personnel Center at Randolph as a result of the Waldo Canyon fire.  Would bet some of the people headed to the AF Academy have already had their household goods picked up if they had orders for 1 July to report to the Academy.  Now they are in limbo until further notice.
Air Force officials have temporarily halted permanent change of station moves and most temporary duty assignments to the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., as Air Force members join the fight to extinguish the 29-square mile Waldo Canyon wildfire burning northwest of the installation, Air Force Personnel Center officials said.
Civilian personnel moves have also been halted until further notice.

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