Fire Season Coming, Reservists Deploy for Training Mission

Reserve airmen with the 302nd Airlift Wing departed Wednesday on a five-day training exercise at the Idaho Air National Guard’s Gowen Field in Boise, Idaho. The training will focus on using the C-130 Modular Airborne Firefighting System, or MAFFS. “The first day we will spend all day doing academics,” Aircraft Commander and MAFFS Co-Pilot Lt. Col. Jeff Phillips said, according to KKTV 11. “They’ll remind us of the safety features, the different procedures for dropping on the fires … They review all the systems to get us refreshed on what all we are doing, what we are dropping, and then the next four to five days — depending on the weather and the needs — we will be actually doing water drops near simulated fires.” In 2017’s fire season thus far, more than 2.1 million acres have burned in Oklahoma, Kansas, and Colorado. The head of the 302nd’s aerial firefighting units, Maj. Gen. John Stokes, told the Colorado Springs Gazette that “Whenever the call comes in, whether it’s a busy season or a season that’s not very busy, our concern is that we’re mission ready, that we have a number of trained crews and we’re ready to go. From all indications, our wing is ready for another successful season.” The annual training mission includes ground and air components.