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Questions arise about why local firm overlooked in forest fire fighting

VICTORIA, B.C- The BC Wildfire Service has been a lightning rod for criticism this fire season.

Many people around the province have been upset by the fact that the provincial firefighting service will not deploy resources to remote communities, specifically some of those communities west of Prince George.

Coulson Aviation, based in Port Alberni, has contracted out three planes to the California government to fight wildfire and questions have been raised as to why the province of BC hasn’t gone this route.

Provincial Fire Information Officer Kyla Fraser says the wildfire service doesn’t have the option to contract out and use these C-130’s.

“Coulson C-130 aircraft isn’t registered for use in Canada, only in the United States,” says Fraser. “The BC Wildfire Service would only be able to use this aircraft if it was registered in Canada, or if it was under contract with the U.S. Forest Service, so we could access it through our mutual aid resource-sharing agreement.”

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The BC Wildfire Service has 24 aircraft, eight ‘bird dogs,’ which serve as spotters for the 16 air tankers.

The famous Martin Mars was retired in 2015.

BC Wildfire Service Aircraft Fleet

Bird dogs:

4 – Rockwell Turbo Commander TC-690 (four planes)
1 – Cessna 208B Grand Caravan EX
1 – Cessna 525 CitationJet
1 – Turbo Commander 1000
1 – Cessna 208B Grand Caravan

Air tankers:

4 – Airtractor AT-802F Fire Boss
4 – Airtractor AT-802F
4 – Convair CV-580
4 – Lockheed Electra L-188

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