The CAL FIRE program is busier than ever, because fire season doesn’t slow down for global pandemics or other human concerns.
“As of July 1st, we’ve had more than 3,480 fires in California that have burned nearly 25,000 acres,” said Jeff Cavarra, CAL FIRE program director. “Overall, we have flown more than 3640 hours this year – an increase of 918 hours over the same period in 2019.”
CEO George Krivo was on site last week touring the aviation program. He rotated between two locations: the main base at McClellan and the Grass Valley Air Attack Base in California. During his visit, George flew in an S-2T Air Tanker aircraft delivery flight with DI Lead Air Tanker Pilot Brad Baker – including a water drop in the practice jettison area, and he took a return flight in one of the DI-owned Cessna 206T aircraft piloted by Maintenance Support Pilot Daemon Edwards.
“Thanks to Jeff Cavarra and the CAL FIRE team for hosting me last week. I could not be more pleased with the leadership, teamwork and professionalism I experienced,” said Krivo. “The entire team is simply spectacular.”
CAL FIRE is growing to keep up with the increased demand. “We are sending out more mechanics to the field in support of the CAL FIRE fixed wing and recently acquired S-70i CAL FireHawks,” added Cavarra. “Our pilot training program brought on eight new pilots this year and our air tanker pilot training program has already graduated one pilot this year, with another two expected to complete training next week.”
At McClellan, Krivo toured the DI-leased hangar that houses the DI FAA Repair Station and depot facility for DI’s USFS Sherpa Maintenance Program. He also checked out DI’s ongoing work on the S-70i helicopters and U.S. Coast Guard C-130 aircraft that will be transferred to CAL FIRE after installation of the retardant tank. George visited with employees including Chief of Aviation Dennis Brown, Director of Maintenance Marty Buno, Rotor Wing Program Manager Antonio Agosto, Battalion Chief David Krusssow, Tactical Air Operations Chief Jake Sholund, DI Air Tanker Pilots Colin Rogers and Jeff Reynolds, DI Air Tactical Pilot Adam Roberts, DI Base Mechanic Edward LaManna, and DI Lead C-130 Air Tanker Pilot Bryan Baker.
“I enjoyed showing Mr. Krivo the work we’re doing for the State of California,” said Cavarra. “I’m proud of this team and the hard work they do, and he clearly appreciated their work as well.”