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US Forest Service
1400 Independence Ave., SW
Washington, D.C.

(800) 832-1355

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USDA Forest Service
Washington, D.C.
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(202) 205-1134
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Statement from US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell
on Aircraft Support for Texas, Other Wildfires Throughout the Country

The Forest Service is working hard right now with our federal, state and local partners to combat fires in Texas, California and several other states.  I want to assure the public that the Forest Service has ample aircraft strategically placed around the country to support on-the-ground teams combating this year’s wildfires.  Our current available airplane fleet includes:

  • 17  Large Air Tankers which have a capacity of delivering an average of over 2000 gals. of water or retardant per trip.
  • 1  DC-10 Very Large Airtanker with a capacity of 12,000 gals.
  • 8  military aircraft specially outfitted to fight fires with an average capacity of 3000 gals.
  • 3  CL- 215 scooper aircraft which can deliver an average of 1300 gals. of water per trip.
  • More than 100 wildland fire response helicopters, including exclusive use contracts for:
  • 2 dozen Type-1 heavy helicopters
  • Over 40 Type-2 medium helicopters on national contracts
  • Over 50 Type-3 light helicopters on local or regional contracts
  • Additional helicopters are available through call-when-needed contracts

All of these assets support the more than 16,000 federal firefighters (10,500 are Forest Service), and 1000 Forest Service firefighting engines.
The Forest Service takes the safety of our employees and contractors seriously and we insist on maintaining stringent airworthiness standards that were developed after two airtankers crashed in 2002, resulting in the loss of both crews.  The Forest Service does not take shortcuts on safety.


USDA is an equal opportunity provider, employer and lender. To file a complaint of discrimination, write: USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Ave., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 (voice) or (202-720-6382 (TDD).

US Forest Service
Last modified March 29, 2013

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