June 22, 2011 by Rich Cooper

Here’s a piece I wrote for the Defense Media Network about the age of the nation’s firefighting aircraft and the dangers this pose, particularly during wildfire season.

Faltering Tools for Fire and Ice – Defense Media Network

It’s a basic lesson any semi-decent carpenter or weekend handyman knows. If you have the right tools, you can do your job a lot easier and a whole lot better. Having a shovel makes it easier to dig a hole; having a power drill allows you to bore a hole faster into a board; and having the right sized wrench allows you to tighten that bolt so a wheel doesn’t fly off.

As basic as this premise might be, it is one that we have failed to follow in terms of dealing with fire and ice in this country. As it pertains to fire, a recent Washington Post story, “Firefighting planes have perhaps been too long on job” detailed the problems the nation is having in terms of an antiquated fleet of fire-fighting aircraft.

With a median age of several decades and enormous wear and tear on them, the reliability and safety of these aircraft is in serious question. That’s not good news, especially for the Southwestern U.S., as fire-season has come early to Arizona this year. Thousands of acres have already burned and many of the widespread fires remain uncontained.

While the condition of these aircraft may seem quite remote to people in the plain old suburbs of America, these aircraft and the people flying them as well as those on the ground that are fighting fires along with them have made the difference between life and livelihood and death and destruction for many.

Read the full article on the Defense Media Network.


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