Meet the aerial firefighting roundtable experts: Brett L'Esperance, Dauntless Air
Khai Trung Le spoke to Brett L’Esperance ahead of the AirMed&Rescue firefighting roundtable on his unique expertise on water and fire retardant drops
** EDIT: the AirMed&Rescue Firefighting Roundtable is now available, watch the full discussion on innovation in the global fight against wildfire here **
AirMed&Rescue and Erickson have teamed up to host a firefighting roundtable discussion profiling the latest developments in aerial firefighting at a time when the service has never been more necessary.
Experts in their field from Erickson, Dauntless Air, and Intterra will bring their experience and insights to the roundtable, highlighting how adaptations to aircraft, dedicated mutual aid communications between aerial and ground operations, and more are helping to fight fires more effectively and efficiently.
During the roundtable, Brett L’Esperance, Chairman and CEO of Dauntless Air, will outline custom onboard technology – both hardware and software – that improves the accuracy of water and fire retardant drops, along with other aspects of aerial firefighting that could benefit from technological innovation.
L’Esperance's extensive experience in capital management and investment has helped position the Fire Boss scooper as one of the most widely deployed firefighting aircraft globally. This season, there are 25 Fire Bosses operating in the US (15 by Dauntless Air) and approximately 100 more around the world. L’Esperance noted: “In the last year, the Fire Boss has fought wildfires in 13 states in the US, including California, Alaska, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Colorado. Internationally, over one-third of all Fire Bosses operate in Europe, Australia has eight, and Chile has between 2 and 3.”
L’Esperance continued: “In the US and globally, we’re seeing increasing demand as states and countries revisit their aerial firefighting strategies for today’s intensifying environment. More and more fire planners have recognized how effective the Fire Boss can be, especially when it comes to initial attack and keeping fires small and contained so ground crews can more easily put them out.”
The roundtable will look to the future of firefighting and, speaking of the next generation of scoopers, L’Esperance said: “Down the road, we see a lot of potential for a 1,000 to 1,200 gallon scooper that prices out at the US$4-6 million range—likely a large single-engine aircraft or multi-engine inline configuration. The CL-415/215-Ts, while excellent firefighting platforms, are very expensive to buy and contract when they cost US$35-40 million apiece. The price point really limits widespread use. Compare that to the Fire Boss, which has gained a lot of acceptance due to the productivity and much lower price point. Splitting the difference and pursuing a scooper in the 1,000-1,200 gallon range would be another step in the right direction and provide a platform that could work extremely well alongside helicopters and Fire Bosses.”
Since joining Dauntless in 2017, L’Esperance has led the company’s growth acceleration, strategy implementation, and operational excellence efforts, which have helped the Fire Boss scooper become one of the leading fixed-wing firefighting aircraft in the world. Prior to Dauntless, L’Esperance spent nearly 20 years in private equity, including working at Bain Capital, Woodside Capital Management, and the Watermill Group.