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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

NIFC: Strategic Management of Large Airtankers – Talking Points

National Interagency Fire Center - NIFC

Strategic Management of Large Air-Tankers – LAT Talking Points
USFS AT-23 On Initial Attack In Arizona

1.      Large air tankers are a great tool for initial attack, especially for initial attack of small wildfires in areas that have the potential to become large fires.  

·        Retardant is most effective in the early stages of a wildfire, called “initial attack.” The goal is to slow down wildfire but not stop it.

·        Wildfires are suppressed by crews working on the ground, generally by digging line, spraying water or removing fuel by burning out, felling trees or other means. 

·        Airtankers are fast, they can hit hard an emerging fire with up to 3,000 gallons of retardant, coverage level can be adjusted, and fire managers can “box-in” a fire until ground firefighters arrive.

2.      Large air-tankers are a limited tactical national resource. 

·        Even though their location is based on strategic considerations and predicted weather, they can’t be everywhere they are always needed. 
·  The fire community has mitigated the issue through use of more helicopters, contracting for a larger DC-10 delivery airframe, and the smaller, single-engine airtankers, or SEATS.

·        Retardant is expensive and many variables need to be considered before a large airtanker is ordered. 
·  Can retardant help keep the public, firefighters and property safe? 
·  Is the terrain conducive to retardant’s effectiveness?
·  What is the weather forecast, particularly regarding wind? 
·  Since retardant tends to be more effective in grass and shrubs, what kind of fuels is the fire burning in?  

3.      Many people think of retardant as the “silver bullet” of firefighting.  It’s not.

·        If there isn’t a continual round of retardant drops, some people may think that not enough is being done by firefighters.  This isn’t the case. Fire managers don’t need to use retardant in every situation. 

·        Retardant is only one tool in the toolbox to suppress wildfire. Retardant is a tool, and often a good one.  The most effective work is done by firefighters already on the ground.

·        No matter what tool firefighters use, safety is the number one priority. 

Original .doc file NIFC - Link


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****REMINDER**** Every fire has the ability to be catastrophic. The wildland fire management environment has profoundly changed. Growing numbers of communities, across the nation, are experiencing longer fire seasons; more frequent, bigger, and more severe, fires are a real threat. Be careful with all campfires and equipment.
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