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Farm Bill Provision Includes New Firefighting Air Tankers

A Next Generation DC-10 operated by 10 Tanker Air Carrier

Up to five new air tankers will soon be available for fighting fires thanks to a provision in the most recent version of the Farm Bill.

Democratic Colorado Senators Mark Udall and Michael Bennet sponsored the amendment, first introduced last year in the Senate version of the bill. It allows the Forest Service to lease next generation firefighting air tankers that are bigger and faster than their older counterparts.

“In Colorado and throughout the West, any additional tools or resources to help fight wildfires are extremely valuable. They help save property and lives,” Bennet said in a written statement.

Recent upgrades and procedural changes have improved the strength of the U.S. Forest Service civilian air tanker fleet that at one time was down to fewer than 10 planes.

“Air tankers don't extinguish wildfires alone, but with these new resources, Colorado will be better prepared to quickly contain the blazes that threaten our homes and businesses,” Udall said.

Both Udall and Bennet have stressed mitigation and prevention of wildfires as a way to reduce the cost of fighting the massive blazes that erupt each year. According to the trade blog wiildfiretoday.com “a dollar spent on mitigation precludes expenditure of $5 on firefighting.” 

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