By 1st Lt. Rusty Ridley
153rd Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Two Wyoming Air National Guard Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems-equipped C-130s arrived here June 25 after the National Interagency Fire Center requested Department of Defense wildland firefighting support for the Rocky Mountain area.
The 153rd Airlift Wing’s aircraft, along with 16 personnel, join two MAFFS-equipped C-130s and personnel assigned to the Air Force Reserve Command’s 302nd Airlift Wing stationed at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo., to help suppress wildfires burning just miles from Peterson AFB.
Three MAFFS-equipped C-130s flew missions on their first day of operations dropping retardant to mitigate fires burning land and structures in the Pike National Forest as result of the Waldo Canyon fire which started on June 23. The fire is burning at the edge of Colorado Springs, threatening hundreds of homes there and in neighboring cities.
“Our number one goal is to take care of citizens in their time of need,” said Brig. Gen. Kenneth Todorov, deputy director of operations for U.S. Northern Command. “We have eight tankers like these in the country, and half of them will be brought to bear on the fires here.”
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system that can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.
In addition to the 153rd and 302nd Airlift Wings, two other Air National Guard units, the 146th AW, Port Hueneme, Calif., and the 145th AW, Charlotte, N.C., possess the ability to assist federal, state and local wildland fire fighting agencies and organizations with MAFFS.