About half of requests for air tankers could not be filled last year

There is an article over at Fire Aviation about the number of Unable to Fill (UTF) requests for air tankers last year. Here is an excerpt:

New data that the National Interagency Fire Center released about the 2012 wildfire season reveals that almost half, or 48 percent, of the requests for large air tankers could not be filled. Of the 914 requests, 438 were rejected as “unable to fill” (UTF), meaning no air tankers were available to respond to the fire; 67 were cancelled for various reasons.

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire. Google+

3 thoughts on “About half of requests for air tankers could not be filled last year”

  1. The input #’s are skewed.. it really should be more UTF’s.. Think about it.. When we had 44+ Heavy Air Tankers it was standard to be able to get ten within the first hour for Initial Attack.. The past few years one has been lucky to even have one heavy air tanker in the region. Sooo.. tactics change and Aerial Supervisors don’t order as many as you really need.. So much for the best use of air tankers and retardant.. rapid IA. We are bringing up a group of aerial supervisors who don’t even KNOW what it is like to get ten or twelve air tanker in the first hour! So they don’t order them. Really need to look at the Canadian model.. One cannot spend enough on IA the FIRST day. Basic Math…..

  2. As with any incident, planning and reassement very twenty or so minutes as the incident expands decides the kind and type of resources that will accomplish the task. A lone borate bomber arriving from (?) hours (days) after a incident has been evolving; well it is what it is? Gives the press time to get out to the airbase to photo the aerial assault. Just in California at the height of fire season (August, September into October) there was as many as seventeen Federal tankers throughout the State a decade ago. What happened to the cooperative spirit? (Washington D.C.) So for you younguns “ten heavies in the first hour” was not that uncommon. Those fires were quickly (first burning period) taken care of and would only causually make the evening news.

    1. Just to make sure no one is confused, Mr. Coldwater is referring to the “borate bombers” that dropped sodium calcium borate. They were first used on the 1956 Inaja fire in San Diego County. It was quickly discovered that this chemical sterilized the soil, and by 1957 it was no longer used. However, the term “borate bomber” still lingers on 56 years later.

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