CAL FIRE receives sixth maintenance award in six years

A CAL FIRE helicopter pictured in May 2016 (CAL FIRE)

The California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has reported that for the sixth year in a row, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) presented CAL FIRE and DynCorp International with the Diamond Award of Excellence for Aviation Maintenance. The award recognises CAL FIRE’s aviation maintenance technicians after passing the difficult aircraft safety training programme, said the service. More than 75 technicians were recognised and each awarded with the William (Bill) O’Brian Award for Excellence.

Chief Ken Pimlott, CAL FIRE Director, said: “CAL FIRE’s aerial firefighting fleet is an essential element in combatting California’s devastating wildfires. We are proud of the hard work and commitment that our aviation management staff and DynCorp International mechanics do every day in maintaining the largest wildland aerial firefighting fleet in the world with an award-winning safety and maintenance programme.”

CAL FIRE said it maintains 22 airtankers, 15 tactical aircraft, 12 helicopters, and other fixed-wing training and administrative aircraft. All the aircraft are maintained at the department’s maintenance base at McClellan Air Park in Sacramento County, said the service, which added that since the beginning of its air programme in the 1970s, safety and superior maintenance has been a top priority.

Along with CAL FIRE ’s seasonal aviation experts, DynCorp International mechanics ensure that the state’s firefighting air fleet is kept in pristine condition, said the Department.

Jeffrey Cavarra of DynCorp International commented: “This award is a testimony to the exceptional maintenance performed on all CAL FIRE aircraft by DynCorp International team members. The strength of commitment by both DynCorp International and CAL FIRE working together in a public/private partnership is a clear reflection of this prestigious award.”

According to CAL FIRE, record breaking rainfall totals throughout California this year mean that the threat of wildfires during the warmer months will continue to increase as the abundant annual grass crop dries out, as more rain has produced more grass and underbrush, increasing the fuel for wildfires to burn. CAL FIRE said that over the next couple of months, it will finish the winter maintenance and safety inspections on the firefighting aircraft and staff them at the department’s airbases and helibases across the state to help assist with this year’s wildfires.

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