Rep. Peter DeFazio Applauds Forest Service Request for High-Capacity Fire Suppression Airtankers Ahead of Fire Season
After pressing the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) for more than a year to strengthen their aerial firefighting resources, Rep. Peter DeFazio (OR-04) today applauded the agency’s request for high-capacity airtankers to help combat wildfires in the upcoming fire season.
“The USFS must include high-capacity air tankers in their fire suppression tactics in order to most effectively combat wildfires this year,” said Rep. DeFazio. “Oregon and other Western states endured some of the worst wildfires in decades last year, and clearly did not have the resources to fight the blazes. Winter snow packs and May precipitation levels were well below normal, and it is expected that this fire season will be severe. To be anything less than prepared for the upcoming fire season is unacceptable, and I will continue to fight so that the forest service has the funding they need to acquire the tools they need to effectively fight wildfires this season.”
Rep. DeFazio has repeatedly pressed the USFS to determine why they did not solicit high-capacity firefighting airtankers last year. In September, while touring the Eagle Creek and Chetco Bar fire, he expressed his concerns with former USFS Chief Tony Tooke and sent a letter to Chief Tooke in December asking the agency for specifics regarding their aerial firefighting resources and procedures. He recently met with the interim USFS Chief Vicki Christiansen in Washington to discuss fire suppression plans for the 2018 fire season and to encourage the USFS to ensure it has adequate tools at its disposal to combat the fires.
The 2017 fire season destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres in Oregon alone. Prior to the 2017 fire season, the USFS solicited requests for proposals (RFPs) for air tankers to combat forest fires. However, their proposal excluded high-capacity tankers.