On Monday, the North Carolina Forest Service held a demonstration near Jordan Lake, to show what Fire Boss Aircraft are capable of doing to help fight a forest fire. Brian Haynes, Public Information Officer for the NC Forest Service:
“We contracted for two Fire Boss Aircraft, which are water scooping airplanes made by a company in Minnesota. They were brought here to help us fight forest fires during the spring fire season. They have already been working. They worked all weekend on a number of different fires. They were extremely helpful in the initial attack and keeping those fires from spreading further and becoming bigger and potentially endangering homes."
Haynes explains that the capabilities of the Fire Boss aircraft are very beneficial:
“We currently operate 23 aircraft, not including the two new Fire Boss Aircraft. We have 18 single engine aircraft and 5 helicopters that we use to fight forest fires across the state. However the two new Fire Boss planes are water scooping aircraft, the benefit being they can turn around and put water on the fire much quicker than a plane that has to land and get reloaded. They will use a lake or river that has a good stretch of water where they can fly down and pull up water, then turn around and dump that water on the head of the fire. This helps to slow it down and gives us a chance to get lines around it to contain it a lot quicker.”
In fact, the aircraft has been pressed into service already, fighting fires in the eastern portion of the state in the past few days, including Pender County over the weekend:
“Monday was a demonstration flight to show the Aircraft’s capabilities. We did use it a number of times last week and weekend. It was used quite a bit in the southeastern portion of the state where it was making runs to drop water on the fire every five to ten minutes. This was extremely helpful in keeping the fires much smaller.”
Haynes says that the Fire Boss aircraft has the ability to scoop water from a lake or river, around 800 gallons, and a speed of 150 knots. The plane can also cruise at that speed as low as 80 feet.
The North Carolina Forestry Service, now a part of the Department of Agriculture is responsible for fire suppression on state owned, as well as privately owned land, according to Haynes:
“We fight fires in both state owned forest land and on private forest land. There is about 18.6 million acres of forest in North Carolina. About 63% of that is privately owned. Our federal partners do tend to work on their own lands but we will assist when called just as they will assist us.”
Brian Haynes, Public Information Officer for the NC Department of Forestry
Image courtesy of http://www.eaa.org