LETTER: Better air response could fight fires more efficiently

Dear Editor,

Western Canada long ago should have established a Fire Fighting Air Group of Canadair/Bombardier 215/ 415 Water Scooping aircraft. In 2017 Quebec received ABSOLUTELY FREE $11.7 billion in equalization and transfer payments funding (ETF).

The CB 415 firefighting aircraft cost lists at $40 Million U.S. With a substantial discount for group sales, more than 300 CB 415s could have been purchased in 2017. With some considerable for thought going back several decades, why haven’t western governments managed their funds more efficiently rather than simply just throwing the money away?

Western Canada could have legitimately bought thousands of those aircraft.

Western Canadian governments for a very long time now have been derelict in their duty to the citizens of the three western provinces, especially during the past several years where summer wildfires have devastated so much of our territory.

On a per capita basis, Western Canada generates most of the money funding the ETF funds that have annually funded since 1957 one of the “richest socialist provinces” in Canada. Subsidized day care in Quebec is $10 per child ($164 per child per month). In B.C., Alberta, and Ontario, families take out second mortgages to fund day care at between $13 to $1,600 per child.

Meanwhile, while western Canada has gone without, Quebec has been building and selling their 215s and 415s to International customers since 1967.

The Canadair 215 water scooping aircraft’s maiden flight was 1967. There were 125 aircraft built. The 215 scooped 5,000 litres in 12 seconds.

The 415 scoops 6,160 litres averaging 11 kilometre flights with water to fire, the aircraft drops 54,140 litres per hour.

In B.C., the fires and water often border each other. Quick turnarounds would be the order of the day. In emergencies, short pickups may be necessary.

Water scooping pilots are well trained before they become 415 pilots. A western fire fighting air group would require a huge aviation infrastructure industry. Thousands of new well paying long term jobs would be introduced.

Western Canada should quickly get moving, were those air detachments now in place, distributed throughout the west, our present day losses would not be so horrific. For example, for lighting strike fires. In many cases a quick air drop of 6,000 litres of water dropped in two seconds would quickly extinguish the fire.

Kelowna Flight Craft with its Allied Wings pilots and flight engineers training schools and flight maintenance and service centres at Portage La Prairie, Manitoba would provide easy integration into serving western interests.

Ernie Slump, Canadian Army retired.

Penticton, B.C.

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