Two specially equipped C-130
Hercules and 29 reservists from Peterson Air Force Base, CO, are
helping squelch forest fires in Idaho.
In the first three days since arriving Sept. 4 in Boise, Idaho,
the C-130s and Airmen from Air Force Reserve Command flew 14
sorties and dropped 36,500 gallons of fire retardant supporting of
the National Interagency Fire Center, also in Boise.
The aircraft, assigned to the 302nd Airlift Wing here, are
equipped with modular airborne fire fighting systems that allow
aircrews to drop up to 3,000 gallons of fire retardant over an area
one-quarter of a mile long and 60 feet wide.
The Airmen use the systems in coordination with ground-based
firefighters. Aircrews are dropping their retardant in front of
advancing fires, allowing firefighters on the ground to clear a
wider area or attack fires from the sides.
"We are on standby to hit a fire when it springs up, so we are
fighting smaller fires before they get large," said Maj. Steven
Foss, the mission commander. “We are able to respond quickly
to protect lives and property."
A mixture of 80- to 85-percent water, 10- to 15-percent ammonium
sulfate and red coloring are combined to create the retardant, also
The aircraft and reservists replaced Air National Guard Airmen
who relocated to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts.
"We were surprised to get the call, but no more surprised than
anyone else with what's happened," Major Foss said.
"Morale is high, as always. We like to support the
firefighters." [ANN Salutes 2nd Lt. Jody Ritchie, 302nd Airlift
Wing Public Affairs]