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Air Force Reserve Crews Join Fight Against Colorado Fires

302nd Airlift Wing

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., June 25, 2012 – The Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing here received word this morning that it is tasked to provide support to the ongoing Colorado wildland fires.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Air Force reservists assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing load a U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System unit onto a C-130 Hercules at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., June 24, 2012. The 302nd Airlift Wing has been tasked by the National Interagency Fire Center to support wildland aerial firefighting missions in the Rocky Mountain area. U.S. Air Force photo by Ann Skarban

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

The request for assistance from the National Interagency Fire Center to the Defense Department requested four C-130 air tankers capable of transporting and employing the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, along with appropriate command, control and support personnel to assist in firefighting. The 302nd Airlift Wing and the Wyoming Air National Guard’s 153rd Airlift Wing are supporting the effort.

"Since they've started, we have been monitoring the fires and have had our aircrews, aircraft and the MAFFS systems in a state of readiness anticipating a possible tasking from the U.S. Forest Service," said Air Force Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd Airlift Wing chief of aerial firefighting. "As soon as we received the formal request this morning, the wing's aerial porters and C-130 loadmasters loaded the U.S. Forest Service MAFFS units. In addition, MAFFS-qualified aircrews are on standby. We are ready and will fly once we receive our launch order."

While the 302nd Airlift Wing MAFFS crews and aircraft have recently supported wildland fires in Texas and in southwestern U.S., fire support in the Rocky Mountain region will have special meaning, Thompson said.

"As the only Air Force Reserve wing in the United States trained and qualified to fly the MAFFS mission, it is especially meaningful for the men and women of this wing to use their specialized training to help right here at home," he said.

Once the launch order is received, the aircraft will provide aerial firefighting missions supporting the U.S. Forest Service. MAFFS-equipped aircraft and crews are expected to fly missions from here as soon as tomorrow, weather conditions permitting and as directed by the U.S. Forest Service incident commander, officials said.

The MAFFS units are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles in wildland fire suppression that make up the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system 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.

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