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Local Reps Introduce Bill to Snag Military Planes for Fighting Fires

The bill, sponsored by representatives Adam Schiff and Judy Chu, would earmark 14 of 21 planes that may be decommissioned by the military for the U.S. Forest Service to use to fight wild fires.

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.”

Leslie M Wilkins August 03, 2012 at 04:27 PM
I have always been amazed by the idea of banning night water dropping. Really USFS the fires still burn & spread in the dark. Those of us who live in or near fire areas would appreciate it if the fires could be knocked down faster & more water dropping aircraft would help to do that. The USFS needs those planes!!
Elizabeth Nazarian August 04, 2012 at 02:22 PM
I agree. When the Station Fire first started, a friend and I drove up Ocean View as far as we could go. We couldn't believe what we saw - the water dropping helicopers were hovering above, but not doing anything. And that was during the day time. I don't think the fire was taken seriously enough by those in charge of making the decisions as to how to put out the fire. We all saw the conflagration the following days and the resulting disaster to the people, the wildlife and the forest. This proposal makes perfect sense so that all of the Western States which are known to have massive wildfires can benefit.

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