Cal Fire Chief Endorses DC-10 Supertanker

In a recent edition of his Chief’s memo California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection Director Ruben Grijalva discusses in detail why he signed a three year contract for use of the DC-10 Supertanker, Tanker 910.

The Chief writes at length why he supports this all important firefighting weapon. Here are a few key highlights from his memo.

“in July of 2006, due to intense fire activity in southern California, an evaluation team was formed to determine the feasibility of incorporating the DC-10 into the fire action plan. After an evaluation process, it was determined that the DC-10 could be deployed safely and effectively. A Call When Needed (CWN) contract….”

What they found;

“The DC-10 laid down a continuous line of retardant more than fifty feet wide and .7 to .8 miles long per drop. It would require ten to twelve drops from the S2T to equal the length, and extreme accuracy from the pilots to match the continuity of line. The probability of gaps in the S2T line is very high and the width of the DC-10s drop could not be duplicated…”

Feds refuse to add to their aging fleet;
(See Feds. Kill 747 Supertanker)

“The necessity for this added resource is made more critical with the reduction in availability of the Federal Large Air Tanker (LAT) fleet. Since 2002, the number of LATs has been reduced from 44 to the current level of 18 aircraft. This is a 63% reduction. We are not aware of any planned relief for this shortage in the near future…”

Fire killer;

“The DC-10 drops .7 to .8 miles of retardant per drop, if the aircraft is deployed for a 7 hour day with just one drop per hour, it can directly protect or encircle 2,265 Acres per day…”

Al Gore and his crowd will embrace Tanker 910;

“… the amount of Green House Gas (GHG) emissions that were produced by State fires last year was over 5 million metric tons…..the savings on gas emissions achieved by dispatching the DC-10, the same 1/3 ration was used. That would be 1.5 million metric ton savings for the State and a 6 million ton savings overall. “


“The potential benefits directly to the State by utilization of the DC-10 is estimated at $10,000,000 in reduced fire days, $6,800,000 in saved land and timber value, 119 structures saved annually, and the reduction of 1.5 million metric tons of GHG emissions. The public safety, firefighter safety, and pilot safety issues, while not immediately measurable, may also be significant.”

Fantastic news for fire ground personnel. Tanker 910 will change the way wildfires are approached. While Director Grijalva did not touch on it I am sure his people are setting up classes at the Fire Academy for line officers to discuss strategies surrounding ground crew safety and best use guidelines.

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