Being a resident of Colorado Springs, CO I was just a witness to the most destructive fire in the State of Colorado's history. 350+ homes were destroyed within the city limits of Colorado Springs and at one point over 32,000 people were evacuated from their homes. We watched as smoke piled up over our city and the flames came over the ridge and destroyed the lives of so many people.
The fire started last Saturday and many questions have arisen as to why the federal government took so long to act on this fire. We have a Air Force base in the city that is home to the 302nd Airlift wing that houses the specific planes that drop fire retardent on forest fires, but it took days for those planes to start flying.
But there is a bigger question that comes out of this whole situation and the U.S. Forest Service will not answer:
AP labels the 2012 Colorado wildfires worst in state history in this story. My friend and fellow climate skeptic, nationally syndicated radio host Lars Larson, asks some pointed and pertinent questions about what appears to be some of the most idiotic policy ever devised by government...This year the U.S. Forest Aervice will spend north of a billion dollars fighting forest fires across America. Billions of dollars worth of trees owned by the American people will go up in flames. And a $50 million dollar airplane that could put those fires out faster sits on the ground in Arizona because the U.S. Forest Service refuses to hire Evergreen Aviation. Now you may be saying, “There must be a good reason”. That’s what I thought, but then I remembered that government is capable of multibillion dollar stupidity on a daily basis. The Forest Service offers no explanation whatsoever.
The Federal Government refuses to allow private industry from operating because they will possibly lose their strong hold on the situation. They write federal laws that stand in the way of safety and day to day operations from taking place in a number of situations, including forest fires.
This is a statement from Evergreen International Aviation about the situation:
Evergreen International Aviation Statement Concerning the Supertanker
We felt compelled to release this statement due to the overwhelming amount of calls we have
received concerning the availability of the Evergreen Supertanker. We at Evergreen are saddened
by the fire devastation now taking place in many Western US states. For over 60 years, we have
supported the US Forest Service in its important mission to battle and control fires, and it is our
desire to continue this rich history of service. While our helicopters continue to work fires for the
State of Alaska under State contracts, unfortunately, our Boeing 747 Supertanker Very Large Air
Tanker (VLAT) aircraft awaits activation with the US Forest Service.
We have never been told why we have not been activated by the US Forest Service, so we can
only speculate as to why we face this outcome:
1. We were offered a Call-When-Needed (CWN) contract a few years ago by the US Forest
Service (proving our technical viability), but we were never called into action resulting in
a multi-million dollar loss to our company as we were required to maintain and have
flight crew available should we be called. The only contract that will sustain a VLAT
program is an Exclusive-Use contract, which provides an income stream to sustain the
program even if the asset is not utilized. We invested over $50M to develop this asset in
the firm belief that we could better control fires as we proved in Israel and Mexico under
CWN contracts that we could afford to offer at the time.
2. There have been recent changes to the US Forest Service procurement policies. Today,
only small businesses are eligible for contract awards concerning air tanker assets;
Evergreen is not a small business and, therefore, is excluded from consideration for any
3. The US Forest Service’s specification for Next Generation Air Tanker aircraft limits tank
size to 5,000 gallons. The Supertanker’s tanks hold about 20,000 gallons, which is
considered outside the USFS specification. The USFS just awarded contracts to four
small businesses with aircraft equipped with these smaller tanks, and excluded the
Evergreen Supertanker. Since World War II, tank capacities have been in the 3,000 to
5,000 gallon range, yet we continue to face the growing threat from mega fires today. We
believe the Supertanker represents an overwhelming response to this growing threat.
Please contact your state representatives in Washington DC to demand an examination of their
current procurement policies concerning VLAT aircraft. The US Forest Service says it best:
“Only YOU can prevent wildfires.”
Evergreen International Aviation, Inc. Tel: 503.472.9361 www.EvergreenAviation.com
Here are videos of tankers that could be fighting fires in Colorado and elsewhere…that have killed Americans, burned houses, destroyed public property and timber
When will the federal government get out of the way and let companies like Evergreen assist in saving lives or property? Or will they be greedy and hog the situation to themselves?