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Homeland Security

Colorado reserve unit called in to fight wildland fires

6/25/2012 - PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. (AFNS) -- The Air Force Reserve Command's 302nd Airlift Wing here received word June 24 that it was tasked to provide Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, support to the ongoing Colorado wildland fires.

The request for assistance from The National Interagency Fire Center to the Department of Defense requested four C-130 air tankers capable of transporting and employing MAFFS, along with appropriate command, control and support personnel to assist in fire fighting. The 302nd Airlift Wing and the 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard are currently tasked to provide the requested MAFFS support in Colorado.

"Since they've started, we have been monitoring the fires and have had our aircrews, aircraft and the MAFFS systems in a state of readiness anticipating a possible tasking from the U.S. Forest Service," said Lt. Col. Luke Thompson, 302nd Airlift Wing Chief of Aerial Firefighting.

"As soon as we received the formal request this morning, the wing's aerial porters and C-130 loadmasters loaded the U.S. Forest Service MAFFS units. In addition, MAFFS-qualified aircrews are on standby. We are ready and will fly once we receive our launch order," said Thompson.

While the 302nd Airlift Wing MAFFS crews and aircraft have recently supported wildland fires in Texas and in southwestern U.S., fire support in the Rocky Mountain region will have special meaning.

"As the only Air Force Reserve wing in the United States trained and qualified to fly the MAFFS mission, it is especially meaningful for the men and women of this wing to use their specialized training to help right here at home," added Thompson.

Once the launch order is received, the aircraft will employ from Peterson Air Force Base and provide aerial firefighting missions supporting the U.S. Forest Service. MAFFS-equipped aircraft and crews are expected to fly missions out of Peterson Air Force Base as soon as tomorrow, weather conditions permitting and as directed by the U.S. Forest Service incident commander.

The MAFFS units are owned by the U.S. Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in wildland fire suppression that comprise the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

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