Senator Steve King (R-Grand Junction) has been leading the charge in Colorado for years on increasing Colorado’s ability to respond to wildfires with aerial resources.
Last year, a bill that was sponsored by Senator Steve King (R-Grand Junction) and signed by Governor Hickenlooper required that the state study the effectiveness of a Colorado Firefighting Air Corps and issue a report.
Today, the Division of Fire Prevention and Control released the required report with the title “Special Report: Colorado Firefighting Air Corps.”
In response to recommendations in the report, Senator Steve King issued the following statement:
“For the first time this session, and maybe in the last two years, I’m very optimistic we will be able to strengthen Colorado’s ability to battle wildfires with aerial resources. I’ve said all along that my main concern was protecting Colorado’s water supply from the effects of wildfires and keeping Coloradans safe. I look forward to working with Senate President Carroll and Governor Hickenlooper to address these critical issues in the upcoming weeks.”
Senator King is Supportive of the Following Recommendations Contained in the Report:
· Instead of procuring state-owned air tankers, Colorado should identify and contract for the use of existing air tanker systems during the fire season to fill the temporary gap left by the federal resources. However, the USFS program to modernize and augment the federal air tanker fleet should be monitored to determine if it is occurring as planned. If the modernization and augmentation of the federal air tanker fleet does not occur as planned and Colorado's large air tanker needs cannot be sufficiently met, additional consideration should be given to procuring state-owned air tankers. (Pg. 24)
· In order to achieve the goal of generating an incident assessment for every fire within 60 minutes of report or detection of a wildfire Colorado should procure and operate two fixed-wing multi-mission aircraft. (Pg. 24)
· In order achieve the goal of providing the appropriate aviation suppression resources to every fire within 60 minutes of the request Colorado should procure and operate four multi-mission rotor-wing aircraft. (Pg. 25)
· In order to achieve the goal of providing the appropriate aviation suppression resources to every fire within 60 minutes of the request and to increase the effectiveness of the SEAT program, it is recommended that Colorado increase the exclusive-use SEAT contract to four aircraft in 2014. (Pg. 25)