DynCorp International team members work with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) to help suppress and control wild land fires, helping save many lives and personal property throughout the state. In a recent incident, the DI CAL FIRE team helped suppress the Hutto fire in Smartsville, Calif.
The Hutto fire was like many in Northern California during the summer, burning an estimated 38 acres before being contained by the CAL FIRE team and other fire agencies. DI air tanker pilot Colin Rogers was part of the aerial firefighting team that dropped retardant on the Hutto fire. A family whose home he helped save recently paid him a visit, dropping off small gifts to show their appreciation, including a painting done by a young girl in the family.
“Our tanker drops were but one of the many tools that kept her home safe during the Hutto fire,” said Rogers. “The retardant we drop helps to slow the spread of the fires, but the boots on the ground put them out.”
Rogers, who has been with the program for 13 years, attributes successes like the one with the Hutto fire to effective team coordination.
“We could see the flames just about 13 miles off our runway, so we knew it was critical to get right to work. Through experience and confident leadership, we made a plan, coordinating in a very dynamic environment,” he said.
“We were able to see the smoke, 13 miles off the end of the runway, so we knew it was critical to get right to work. The fire environment is a very dynamic environment, but the incident commander and air tactical group supervisor coordinate with each other to devise a plan. Relying on experience and confident leadership, we do what we are trained and hired to do.”
“No one on the team does this job for the money,” he commented, “We are mission driven, which is critical for success – we feel it’s what we’re here for.”
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.
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 wild land fires each year. Those fires burn more than 172,000 acres annually.