Every year before the busy wildfire season in California, DynCorp International team members help prepare California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) aircraft to help contain the fires to conserve property, lives and the environment. Fire season typically takes place between April through November, so airplanes undergo annual inspections, repairs and routine maintenance in the winter months. However, in recent years, the California fire season has gotten longer due to dry conditions in the region, making CAL FIRE’s mission all the more vital.
In support of firefighting forces on the ground, the CAL FIRE emergency response air program utilizes 22 Grumman S-2T 1,200 gallon airtankers, 12 UH-1H Super Huey helicopters and 14 OV-10A airtactical aircraft. During annual inspection season, most of the aircraft are brought to McClellan Air Force Base before being sent to CAL FIRE’s 12 air attack and nine helitack bases throughout the state.
Each aircraft goes through a multi-point inspection per State of California requirements and specialized maintenance for the CAL FIRE mission.
“There is a lot involved in keeping a Cold War-era aircraft up and running. They’ve been modernized but the airframe itself is still an older airframe, even though it looks all-new on the outside. There are still a lot of not just upgrades, but maintenance, that goes on with keeping the structure and airframe up-to-date and safe for the pilots and especially the mission that these aircraft are tasked with,” said Jesse Potswald, DynCorp International S2-T Maintenance supervisor.
Committed to Aviation Maintenance Training
For its commitment to aviation maintenance training, the DynCorp International CAL FIRE team was recently recognized with an FAA Diamond Award for Excellence. The award honors organizations that aim to improve safety through technical training programs. The 2015 award is the fourth consecutive for the DI CAL FIRE team and also recognizes completion by all of DI’s eligible maintenance technicians of specialized, continuous training in aircraft systems and regulations.
DynCorp International and CAL FIRE
DynCorp International support the CAL FIRE aviation program by flying and maintaining CAL FIRE’s Grumman S-2T fire retardant air tankers and OV-10A aircraft. DI team members also fully maintain and service UH-1H Super Huey helicopters flown by CAL FIRE pilots.