BC has a new weapon in its battle against the hundreds of wildfires that destroy large swaths of the province’s forests every summer. It’s a fleet of skimmer airtankers, an amphibious aircraft that can skim water and continue fighting a fire without having to return to base.
Said superintendent of the provincial airtanker program Michael Benson and fire information officer Kevin Skrepnek to Vancouver Sun Friday, “BC acquired four new Air Tractor AT-802F “Fire Boss” amphibious airtankers this spring ahead of the summer fire season. They are operated under contract by the Conair Group and put the province’s fleet of aerial firefighting resources at 24 aircraft. The Fire Boss is like a mini version of the Martin Mars water bomber, the largest piston-powered propeller-driven aircraft in the world. Capable of working as a land-based aircraft or as a float plane, the Fire Boss can skim water from nearby water sources to continue fighting a fire without having to return to base.”
New Wildfire Bombers, BC
The Fire Boss can load up to 3,025 litres of water in 12 to 15 seconds, and be back on its way to the fire line in less than 30 seconds.
Early last month the new airtanker fleet went on its first mission to support ground crews fighting a fire near Schroeder Creek north of Kaslo, BC. The planes dropped 222,361 litres of water and foam, and the fire was contained in 75 minutes. It’s an inexpensive means of delivering water, at about seven cents a litre. With the Fire Boss, firefighters can decide to use water and foam, which is much safer if the fire is near people’s homes.