Two local legislators are among a handful of congress members who have co-sponsored legislation that would transfer 14 military planes that the Department of Defense may choose to decommission into the hands of the U.S. Forest Service to fight fires.
According to Rep Adam Schiff, D-Burbank, the U.S. Air Force recently announced that it no longer needs its current fleet of 12 C-27J aircraft, or the additional 9 that are to be delivered over the coming months. The bill is cosponsored by Rep. Judy Chu (D-Monterey Park), and would result in the transfer of 14 of those 21 planes to the U.S. Forest Service.
The bill does not specify where the Forest Service would deploy the planes, but 10 of the 14 sponsors are from California's delegation.
Schiff has been a frequent critic of the U.S. Forest Service's ban on night water drops during fire emergencies. He suggested in his release that the Forest Service needs to take any steps it can to beef up its fleet of water-dropping planes.
"“The Forest Service should be examining any and all ways to improve their approach to fighting wildfires, including updating and replacing their aging fleet of airplanes,” wrote Schiff. “The proposal to transfer surplus military aircraft to the USFS deserves careful consideration by the agency. While we are still waiting for answers from the Station Fire, I will continue to look for proactive steps that the agency can take, like this legislation, to modernize both their equipment and general approach to fighting wildfires.”