The new association, known as the United Aerial Firefighters Association (UAFA), was founded at the end of 2022, and ‘will aim to inform policymakers and legislators about the important issues concerning aerial wildland firefighting’.
The association said that its aim is to ‘bring together industry experts for collaboration, and to provide a unified voice for the industry when speaking to state or federal stakeholders, fire agencies, and the public’.
Membership is open to any company that owns or leases aircraft, drones or other uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAV); or provides aerial-delivered suppressants or retardants under contract with federal or state entities for use in aerial firefighting. Companies who provide products or services to the aerial firefighting industry, non-profits, and state or national agencies ‘are also encouraged to join’.
John Gould, President and CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, will serve as the inaugural President of UAFA’s board of directors.
Other founding board members include:
- Bart Brainerd, Vice President of Firehawk Helicopters
- Brett L’Esperance, Secretary/Treasurer at Dauntless Air
- Tim Sheehy, Director at Bridger Aerospace
- Jennifer Draughon, Director at Neptune Aviation Services.
“We’ve seen tremendous change occur in wildland fire aviation over the last 20 years,” said Gould. “As we look ahead, these challenges will only become more significant. While individual organizations within the industry will always be competitive, we believe the collective expertise represented within UAFA membership will help to ensure our industry continues to grow with the innovation, safety, and standardization necessary to deliver the best service possible to our customers.”