DynCorp International’s team that supports the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, (CAL FIRE), is playing an instrumental role in helping to contain the Robbers fire, a fire covering more than 2,500 acres in northern California. DynCorp International supports CAL FIRE by providing fleet management for the aircraft as well as pilots.
CAL FIRE’s efforts in fighting the Robbers fire have even broken a record for most drops of retardant dropped by air tankers in a single day.
As featured by KCRA News, CAL FIRE spokesman Daniel Berlant said air tankers set the record after dropping a total of 109 loads of fire retardant on the blaze last Thursday.
During the operation, pilots worked quickly skillfully around the difficult terrain to maneuver the air tankers, which can carry up to 1,200 gallons of fire retardant per trip.
Joe Satrapa, DynCorp International air tanker pilot for CAL FIRE, made 17 retardant drops on the record-breaking day, while Jim Ferreira added 18 drops and Brad Baker delivered 21.
“Sometimes you have a steep canyon wall, and you have to decide, ‘Is it better to turn to the right, to the left, or do the drop in a turn so I can avoid that sheer cliff?'” said Satrapa.
The Robbers fire is expected to be fully contained by Saturday.
DynCorp International and the CAL FIRE Program
DynCorp International has worked with CAL FIRE since 2001 helping suppress and control wild land fires in California.
As part of the program, DI flies and maintains Grumman S-2T fire retardant air tankers and OV-10A aircraft, and fully maintains and services civilian UH-1H Super Huey helicopters flown by CAL FIRE pilots. Operating from across California, aircraft can reach most fires within 20 minutes. The OV-10A aircraft fly over fires, directing the air tankers and helicopters to critical areas for retardant and water drops. The retardant used to slow or retard the spread of a fire is a slurry mix consisting of a chemical salt compound, water, clay or a gum-thickening agent, and a coloring agent.
While both airtankers and helicopters are equipped to carry fire retardant or water, the helicopters can also transport firefighters, equipment and injured personnel. All CAL FIRE Aircraft are strategically located throughout the state at airbases and helicopter bases. During high fire activity, CAL FIRE may move aircraft to better provide statewide air support.
The department’s firefighters, fire engines, and aircraft respond to an average of more than 5,600 wildland fires each year. Those fires burn more than 172,000 acres annually.