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California NewsUSA

Historic victory as C-130s join fight against wildfires – Orange County Register

If you’re from California, chances are you’ve already had to pack a fire emergency kit, had to sit down with your kids to come up with disaster evacuation plans, or that you were even awakened by the smell of fire and checked to see if you had received orders to evacuate.

Californians know the constant threat of wildfires. And we know that even in a quieter year for wildfires like this, we can’t miss an opportunity to expand our arsenal of wildfire suppression tools. With the passage of this year’s annual defense policy bill — the National Defense Authorization Act or “NDAA” — we’re proud to announce that we’ve added another one of these life-saving tools.

Actually, seven of them.

Together, we led California’s congressional delegation to cut red tape and order the immediate transfer of seven C-130 Hercules aircraft to CalFIRE to help fight the wildfires.

These Hercules planes are the same massive aircraft that the military has used for six decades to transport troops and cargo, conduct weather reconnaissance and conduct medical evacuations and rescue missions. They are also critically used to fight wildfires – popular because they can release 4,000 gallons of water in less than five seconds.

Just one of these Hercules aircraft can operate at the level and efficiency of more than three of CalFIRE’s current aircraft. S-2T tankers. So this is a monumental step forward in our efforts to respond to devastating wildfires. And by adding seven additional aircraft, we will also be able to extend the life of other aircraft and strengthen our state’s ability to respond to ever more frequent and dangerous wildfires.

But for all their promises, it was far from guaranteed that these vital resources would actually reach California. Five years ago, Congress passed a bill directing the federal government to modify and transfer seven Coast Guard Hercules aircraft to California. Yet for five years, contract delays and red tape prevented our communities from receiving the protection they desperately needed.

California Daily Newspapers

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