The American Helicopter Services And Aerial Firefighting Association (AHSAFA) has welcomed the decision of the Colorado Legislature to continue contracting for aerial firefighting services from the private sector, instead of opting for State ownership and operation of all fire-combating aircraft – which was under consideration.
The Colorado Aerial Firefighting Fleet Acquisition bill was signed into law by Governor John Hickenlooper on 12 May. Under the legislation, the State will purchase two fire-spotting planes, and contract for four, single-engine fixed-wing tankers, plus four helicopters from private operators. The State currently has contracts with private operators for two single-engine tankers.
Tom Eversole, AHSAFA executive director, stated: “With Governor Hickenlooper’s signature on [the bill], the State of Colorado has been given the flexibility to contract for the use of aerial firefighting assets from private operators. This will provide our operators with more opportunities to work, and at the same time, provide the State of Colorado with dedicated aircraft--available as needed--without the state having to expend the resources to establish and maintain a government-operated aerial firefighting infrastructure. Their own study, and our expertise, convinced the State that establishing its own aerial firefighting operation was not the way to go.”