U.S. Forest Service and Air National Guard Prepare for Fire Season

Greenville, S.C.
Airmen from the North Carolina and Wyoming Air National Guard conducted annual Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems (MAFFS) training along with their partners from the U.S. Forest Service here, during the week of May 4.

Col. Tom Brown, a MAFFS navigator and director of operations of the Air National Guard Office at the North Carolina National Guard, Joint Force Headquarters explained the well-established relationship between the 145th Airlift Wing, the 153rd Airlift Wing of Wyoming and the U.S. Forest Service.

“We have been training with our sister unit the 153rd long enough now that we can operate with mixed air and ground crews and function safely at the high operating levels necessary to accomplish the MAFFS mission,” said Brown.

The Air National Guard and the U.S. Forest Service began training with modified C-130s in the 1970s. MAFFS is a highly effective firefighting system that is installed into C-130 aircraft and is capable of releasing 3,000 gallons of fire retardant on a fire at a time.

During this training, aircrews were practicing up to 15 flights a day over four sites in various national forests in the Carolinas and in Georgia. Training also included classroom and flight training for aircrews, civilian lead plane pilots, support personnel and the ground crews.

Kim Christensen, the deputy assistant director of operations with the U.S. Forest Service is a veteran fire fighter with over 35 years of experience. “The MAFFS concept and the relationship between its partners are stable, this week is about us getting ready for fire season and reinforcing the tactics and strategies that we know work,” said Christensen.

Each day of training air and ground crews from the Air National Guard and U.S. Forest Service worked in a seamless choreography of taking off, releasing water over the training sites, landing and refilling the MAFFS.

“This has been another successful training event and the 145th and the153rd are ready to support the U.S. Forest Service whenever we are called upon,” said Brown.

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Contact: Capt. Matthew Boyle
Phone: (919) 664-6829

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