The study relied on data provided by US Forest Service and concluded that deployment of air tankers early in the life of wildfires dramatically reduces the duration of the fire. This directly links to the economic impact and cost to American taxpayers: among more than 11,000 fires analyzed, the study found that they burned for less than one day when tankers were deployed in the first four to six hours of a reported fire.
The second part of the analysis used data of the US Department of Commerce to study the economic impact of wildfires, concluding that the quantifiable annual costs total a minimum of US$185 billion annually. The figure does not account for direct costs paid, for example in insurance claims and repairs to infrastructure.
Dan Reese, president of GSTS, said: “Global SuperTanker is the world’s largest firefighting air tanker, but is by no means a silver bullet solution to a greatly under-resourced US aerial firefighting fleet. However, we believe this study is a significant milestone in defining solutions to America’s escalating wildfire threat. For the first time, definitive information correlating air tanker use, wildfire dynamics and economic impacts is available to policymakers worldwide to inform aerial firefighting strategies.”