We, Americans, don’t often think of the members of our armed services as anything but fighting wars and helping in other emergency situations. However, they do much more than that. For instance, I had a communique from the Department of Defense that two C-130 aircraft, equipped with U.S. Forest Service Modular Airborne Firefighting Systems (MAFFS) will assist with wildfire suppression efforts in California. They will be in the Northwest geographic area at the request of the National Inter-agency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho
The supporting units flying the MAFFS missions is the 146th Airlift Wing from the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in southern California.
Upon request, the Department of Defense provides capabilities for disaster response operations in support of the Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) and state and local officials. It also continues to closely monitor wildfires to anticipate requests for assistance.
Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard C-130 aircraft assigned to units in California, Colorado and Wyoming are capable of dropping fire retardant using U.S. forest Service MAFFS units. Aircrews, maintenance crews and support personnel undergo special NIFC training and certification to perform these missions each year.