May 09, 2016

SHOCKING: Here’s why Canada’s largest water bomber wasn’t “available” to fight wildfire in Fort Mac

Sheila Gunn ReidRebel Commentator
 

(May 10 UPDATE: CLICK HERE for Sheila Gunn Reid's LATEST report on this shocking story, with even more troubling details.)

The Martin Mars is Canada’s largest water bomber. It’s staged at Sproat Lake BC, a short flight away from Fort McMurray and could have been used in the fight against the massive wildfire nicknamed “The Beast” by Fort Mac fire chief Darby Allen. But it wasn’t.

The bomber wasn't there because the company that owns it wasn't asked by Alberta government officials to make it available to fight fires in Alberta.

In response to a deluge of questions from concerned people wondering why the company hasn't sent their massive water bomber to help, Coulson Flying Tankers released this statement:

“Firstly, if there was a request by the Alberta Government to contract the Martin Mars, we would do everything in our power to support the request. In fact, we have offered one of our C-130's that could be made available immediately, to the Alberta Government however they currently do not see a need for it at the moment. We have our crews for it on standby, regardless. Next to the Mars at 7200 US gallons, our C-130's are the largest propeller driven air tankers in the world with a 4400 US gallon capacity. Secondly, in the firefighting business it is the government that has operational control of the aircraft. No aircraft operator in the world can simply go and put out a fire, even if they wanted to and if someone ever did, they would be facing serious criminal charges.The Mars is currently going through it’s yearly inspection. Based on the fact no government has any interest whatsoever in the aircraft fighting fire, we have decided to take the Mars to the Oshkosh Air Show in late July in hopes of finding another business or home for it, keeping it somewhat operational.”

So the bomber was ready and available for the Alberta government to hire to fight the fire. But it wasn’t contracted.

Premier Notley said that “every single resource that is needed to fight that fire will be dedicated no holds barred.” Sure. Except contracting the Martin Mars when it was available and the C130 bomber and flight crew that Coulson Flying Tankers is offering. The government hasn’t taken them up on their offer of help because they do not see the need.

If there’s no need for extra tankers in Fort Mac, when will there ever be a need? It’s important to note that later on that day, after that exchange, after being accused by the Premier of fear mongering, Brian Jean's own house burned down in the fire at Fort Mac.

But it gets even worse as I show how we know the Premier isn't telling the truth. We know from what the Coulson Flying Tankers said. Notley flat out lied. She lied to the face of a man trying to save his community. There aren't as many water bombers on contract this year as last. And Notley certainly isn’t using “that and more” as she says to fight the fires.

In fact, now we know she hasn’t taken Coulson Flying Tankers up on their offer of the C-130 and even if the government tried to hire the Martin Mars, they can’t. Not anymore because the government didn't heed the warnings that this would be an early and fierce wildfire season and contract with the appropriate amount of tankers. It’s too late. They're gone and working somewhere else. The bomber companies are now left doing what they can to pay the bills, whether that’s going to an airshow in Wisconsin or taking contracts in the states to fight fires. They’re just trying to make sure they still have a company to operate next year to fight fires. Who can blame them? I don’t.

I’m a small c conservative. There aren’t a lot of things I think government should do. But wildfire management is one of them. Keeping fires from burning your house down seems like one of those public safety things we could be okay expecting government to do for us.

Last year the province spent $500 million on wildfires, when only $200 million was budgeted. The department is consistently underfunded. Notley underfunded it again, so badly that tankers are going elsewhere.

In all the government spending Alberta does, the highest per capita in the country, the place Rachel Notley saw fit to cut was wildfire management. She didn’t make a single cut to bureaucracy in health and government. Not a penny in inefficiency could be found there.

The only places she could cut?

Agriculture and the safety of Alberta’s forest communities.

(May 10 UPDATE: CLICK HERE for Sheila Gunn Reid's LATEST report on this shocking story, with even more troubling details.)

PS: The Rebel is asking for donations and volunteers at RebuildFortMac.ca. So far hundreds have signed up to join our caravan from Edmonton to Fort McMurray. CLICK HERE to learn more and sign up, too.

Comments
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commented 2016-05-13 18:14:26 -0400
The Martin Mars is impressive, very impressive but it is actually not the best option for a lot of fires.

The Martin Mars needs a large enough lake to operate from that also has some place on the shore for the support team to operate from. I am not certain how far the nearest suitable lake is but looking at the map it would seem to be 80 to 100 km away. Gregroire Lake would have been a good location to operate out of, but with the fire surrounding the lake it was not an option

The Martin Mars is very rarely used in BC these days because it is not the most effective plane to use.

It is not easy to add fire retardant and because of the pattern of how it drops you often need to move crews working on the ground from the splash zone

The C130s are land based and take a lot longer to load and it is not clear that they could do enough round trips to make it worth it.

The best sort of aircraft is the purpose built CL-415 – it operate from much smaller lakes

Helicopters are also a much better tool to use because they can bucket loads of water many times per hour very precisely on a hot spot in a way no plane can.
commented 2016-05-12 12:48:19 -0400
Ah, sensationalist reporting at its best. Clap, clap.

How about asking the experts on scene whether or not any more water bombers are necessary to fight the fire, and if there is airspace, tarmac space, and resources available to accommodate any more water bombers? Do you honestly think that the premier has any direct say in determining what resources are required?

Get some more facts, please.
commented 2016-05-12 11:01:17 -0400
Any comment back by SGR regarding the holes in her story?
commented 2016-05-11 20:27:40 -0400
People, do your research from Coulson Flying tankers re fire suppressant “Once airborne, the foam concentrate is injected into the water load (normally, 30 US gallons of concentrate into the 7,200 US gallon water load) where it is dispersed and remains inert until the load is dropped. Once dropped, the tumbling action causes expansion which converts the water load into a foam load. This process is repeated for each drop. In other words, this vital team work is carried out, on average, every 15 minutes per aircraft. For a Gel drop , the concentrate is injected during the scooping process to allow even mixing.” It is out of work because it is expensive to operate and the company needs a season retainer to make it worth their while , it is not retired because it is 70 years old, it does not only use water, it is expensive , not agile , and needs big lakes to suck water from. Get the fact before freaking out, however the fire center is in charge of operations and would scream a storm if they were told NOT to use resources for political reasons .
commented 2016-05-11 17:02:33 -0400
It’s worse than that: On Tuesday (May 5th) the Fire Chief, Darby Allen, warned the Provincial Government that the fire would roar back, later in the afternoon, and threaten a larger area. That was captured during a video conference. Rather than dispatching more resources to contain the fire, Notley did nothing. Virtually all the damage to For McMurray was avoidable. Indeed, the Fire Chief wanted to avoid the damage, but Notley was pinching pennies. The final result: costs over 8 billion.

Even now, Notley is fretting about the environmental impact of restarting oil production too quickly. Notley is singularly insensitive to the needs of the energy sector – a sector that is integral to the wealth of Alberta, and to our nation. Why did Albertans vote the NDP into office? Beats me.
commented 2016-05-11 15:30:47 -0400
Yesterday the Canadian Press and Postmedia reported that “arson is believed to be the cause of at least 10 wildfires in northeastern B.C.” and “fire investigators and conservation officers have found evidence to suggest the wildfires in the Peace region were deliberately set.” according to the B.C. Environment Ministry. They go on to say that, “The fires are believed to be connected and extra conservation officers have been brought in to help investigate, but they are asking for tips from the public.”

The fire that wiped out 2400 structures (mostly homes, I presume) in Fort McMurray began to the southwest of the city and quickly moved north and east, toward the city, presumably being driven by wind in that direction. That means the fire started directly upwind of Fort MacMurry. The chances of that happening purely by chance are very low. There was no lightning in the area when the fire started. And now we find out that arson is suspected in at least ten of the wildfires in the Peace River region. Hello?
commented 2016-05-11 14:09:28 -0400
There goes the carbon tax up right Rachel?No fires carbon tax lower.Doubtful.
commented 2016-05-11 12:33:18 -0400
I didn’t understand why would anyone turn down help to control the fires but came across this today – Perhaps we need to be less willing to jump on the band wagon and criticize before knowing all the facts… I don’t believe anyone, or any oil company or any airline, is idly standing by …
In the interest of remaining balanced on this topic of discussion, and despite the fact that water tankers were not the only sources of aid offered, the following is a comment left from a purported senior PhD candidate in fire ecology:
“The decisions regarding resources are all made through the Provincial Forest Fire Centre by the duty officers who watch fire conditions across the province and assess resources required. When provincial resources are overwhelmed, requests are made through CIFFC (the Canadian Interagency Forest Fire Centre), which then mobilizes resource sharing between provinces. If there are not enough federal resources to share, or if they cannot be moved fast enough relative to local needs, International agreements with the USA (Northwest Compact) come into play (say resources can arrive faster from Montana than Quebec). We also have agreements with Mexico, Australia and many other nations. So if PFFC and CIFFC both said we don’t need Russian or US or Mexican resources right now, then that is all PM Trudeau is echoing.
What this is doing is fuelling the misperception that “more tankers and firefighters can put this out”. In these particular fuel conditions and weather conditions, tankers and manpower are NOT the limiting factor by orders of magnitude. These additional resources will NOT make a difference. The ONLY thing that will put this fire out is substantial rain.
They have all the tankers they need and can manage on this fire. The intensity of the fire is such that they cannot fly close enough to the ground to ensure accurate drops, and barely any of the water dropped from the aircraft even reaches the burning fuel, with most of it evaporated in the air.. If you then think that all they have to do is wet the forest ahead of the fire, that ignores the transport of embers more than 1km downwind, with winds blowing in virtually every direction caused by the vortex of the indraft of the pyrocumulonimbus cloud , which itself triggers lightning. The fire front is so large that it would take literally hundreds of air tankers to make a dent, and then you have a serious air traffic control problem on your hands.
from [sic] one of the best fire behaviour analysts in the world, Mike Flannigan: The 2001 wildfire that went through the central Alberta hamlet of Chisholm burned at 233,000 kilowatts per metre, Flannigan says. At the 2011 Slave Lake fire, the heat was 33,000 kilowatts per metre. For context, if a fire is burning at 10,000 kilowatts per metre, it’s generally deemed that aircraft water bombing is less — or no longer — effective.
it might well be that the Fort McMurray fire is burning as hot as Chisholm"
To add to the above from an Australian opinion piece in the Quadrant:
“We understand that forest fires must be fought “dry” — with bulldozers constructing fire lines, along which crews can move to contain and mop-up the fire edge. In this approach water is used for mopping up the fire edge, but not for constructing the edge, which (in forest country) it cannot do. We regard the growing reliance on water bombing as futile, foolish and wasteful.”

“This is all very well. But when it comes to bushfires, the misinformed are now in charge, or they are subject to political influence and manoeuvring by lobby groups who have no interest in effective bushfire management, such as the Australian Greens and the aviation industry. Misinformation thus leads to foolish decisions, and these in turn to bushfire disasters.
Indeed, the calls for investment in more and bigger aerial water bombers rather than in effective pre-emption of bushfire damage is the classic demonstration of misinformed people making foolish proposals. Every experienced fire fighter in Australia (and in the USA and Canada) knows that water bombers can never control an intense forest wildfire.
Consider these factors:
Firstly, because of atmospheric turbulence and smoke, water bombing aircraft cannot get at the seat of a rampaging forest fire; they must stand off from the head, and then the drop is evaporated by radiant heat well before the flames arrive;
Secondly, in tall, dense forest, the water drop often cannot penetrate the canopy in sufficient volume to make a difference – it is intercepted by the tree crowns. This occurred over and again in the recent fire in ash forest in the Otway Ranges in Victoria. The delivered water simply did not get to the ground.
Thirdly, water bombers cannot (or do not) operate at night and under high winds, the very conditions when the most damaging forest fires occur. Three of the last four towns to burn in WA, and both towns that burned in Victoria in 2009, burned at night.
Fourth, water bombing is extremely dangerous for aircrew, as the aircraft are operating at low altitude, in uncontrolled airspace with poor visibility. It is only a matter of time before there is a shocking accident and an aircrew fatality.
Water bombing can also be dangerous to people on the ground. If the drop from a Very Large Air Tanker is made from only marginally too low, the huge tonnage of water is capable of smashing houses and vehicles and killing firefighters;
Fifth, water bombers use vast quantities of fresh water, probably one of the most precious resources in Australia, especially in Western Australia where the current drought is over 30 years in duration and reservoirs and ground water aquifers are drying up. Sea water could be used, provided the tankers have access to it, but dropping salt water onto catchment areas or farms would only add to the problems caused by the fire.”
commented 2016-05-11 06:01:37 -0400
Question remains, C130? Even to soak edges?
commented 2016-05-11 05:59:51 -0400
Albert Landing, you are wrong, but for the wrong reasons,so you should probably just shut up. No lake nearby big enough to handle the big plane
commented 2016-05-11 05:53:36 -0400
So, here goes. Just saw aircraft mechanic friend, informs me any, I repeat, any water bombers would have same effect as bic lighter on a sheet of ice, but,and I repeat but, had Notley called in c130 at time of warning, town could have been spared a lot of damage!
commented 2016-05-11 05:44:07 -0400
Further to this, where were any suitable sized water bombers? Didn’t see any comments about ANY!!!!!!!!!!!!.
commented 2016-05-11 05:34:35 -0400
I have further information as to why they didn’t use the water bombers, if you really want to hear, and unfortunately it supports Notley, but only if you want to know the truth, and it does not support your theories !
commented 2016-05-11 05:24:19 -0400
Shocking!!!!!!!!!!!!
12 exclamation marks Jay. They refused the C130!!!!!!!!!!!!
commented 2016-05-11 01:28:52 -0400
SHOCKING (with three explanation marks) !!!

If this aircraft had been available the owners would have charged the Alberta government far more than for the water bombers that were used.

The Rebel should do some research and then put out a story. The plane has been grounded for years.
commented 2016-05-11 01:24:26 -0400
The Coulson aircraft would have cost the Alberta government way more than they wanted to pay. Plus the Coulson aircraft is out of service and is being inspected for safety this week.

The Rebel should do a bit of homework. This plane could not have flown to help the fire-fighters in Fort McMurray.
commented 2016-05-11 00:07:07 -0400
Article states that the Mars costs $8400 per/hour more than four smaller planes combined.
BC government paid $670,000 to have it on standby, and Coulson had to spend $100,000 just to get it air worthy. In the seven years leading up to 2013, the plane could only be deployed 20 times. I can find no evidence that it actually flew an active fire fighting mission after 2013, the article only states that the BC government paid it to be on standby for one month.
There are larger water bombers than the Mars’, DC-10 could carry twice as much, but like the Mars it is usually not able to be filled due to take-off min/max issues.
The Mars’ are nostalgic museum pieces, not modern fire fighting equipment.
commented 2016-05-10 17:38:54 -0400
Lies Lies Lies!

The Mars’ contracts were ended by the BC government in 2013 because they were no longer economically viable. Discovery Channel did a documentary on the planes a few years ago, they spend more time on the ground getting maintained than in the air. Of course the owner of the planes would like to have someone committ to paying for the upkeep of this really cool, but obsolete, ineffective equipment.

Bigger is not always better.
commented 2016-05-10 17:22:27 -0400
As usual, a misleading headline and only part of the story published.

The Mars is retired and has been since their contract with the BC government ended in 2013. They are doing the yearly inspection so it can be taken to Oshkosh where they are going to actively look for new owners for the aircraft as they have been doing for a couple of years. The aircraft is also too large to be used at the Alberta fire because it is not in proximity to one of the very few lakes large enough for the Mars to be able to pick up water.

As for the Alberta government not requesting or not accepting the offer of the C-130, maybe you should ask the people fighting the fire and the emergency response team why they are not requesting the aircraft, because they are the ones who control how the situation is addressed. Part of the reason may be the same reason that some of the aircraft already committed to the fire are not flying, because conditions are not safe for a large number of aircraft due to visibility issues cause by the dense smoke.

This lack of credible journalism is why most people will always consider this site to be no more than a tabloid rag, stirring people up with half truths. All of this information has been reported by legitimate media outlets.
commented 2016-05-10 17:05:00 -0400
Roscoe speaks the truth so I will just reprint it. The Mars belongs at Oshkosh – not lumbering inefficiently over any fire in BC or Alberta – or anywhere else.

ROSCO HURLBERT commented 1 hour ago
It’s sad you won’t give the people the real information upon this story……. Why don’t you do a professional journalist job and talk about how the plane itself is retired and has been since 2013, taken out of commission for the 2015 BC fires and then deemed unusable because it’s 70 some years old. They aren’t even using it to fight the BC northern area fires, let alone Ft.Mac.
Had respect for some of the Rebel’s stories, but this stretch of the truth has me not even wanting to read Rebel stories anymore. Nice way to lie and generate hate with isn’t even true. :(
commented 2016-05-10 17:01:46 -0400
Jihadi Justin and his Islamoleftist friends don’t want anyone to put out an Arson Jihad fire set by his Islamist friends. That’s why they also turned down offers of help from several foreign countries. Right now Justie and Nut-ley are jamming to that old song “Disco Inferno”. Arson of forests and homes is a well-used Islamist terror tactic which has also been used in the US. Besides, this fire is a fantastic propaganda opportunity for the shameless jihadists at Caliphate Brainwashing Clowns. Look at the plethora of worshipful articles spawned whenever a jihadist drops a nickel into a Ft Mac donation box. I’ve seen at least 10 such articles so far. Burn, baby burn…
commented 2016-05-10 16:45:52 -0400
All of this type of evidence shows complete negligence by the Alberta Government and I would strongly suggest all those affected by this fire, line up a get ready to file your class action lawsuit. Yes, the taxpayers will be on the hook for the bill BUT the taxpayer would be on the bill for the damage anyways. A lawsuit proving negligence would maybe help to prevent fire damage to other cities in other places of the province in the future. It’s time this government was held responsible for their stupidity.
commented 2016-05-10 16:41:57 -0400
Scott, Rosco, where did you find that it was decommissioned? The statement says it was going through it’s “yearly” certification. Also, the govt turned down the c130, which they were told was available immediately, with crew standing by. That is quite clearly irresponsible of the govt, and proves Notley outright lied when she said she would make all resources available, which she did not.
commented 2016-05-10 16:19:35 -0400
You forgot to metion in your article that said water bomber was decommisioned in 2013. Also it is really too large to refill water on most lakes and is unable to carry fire retardant.
commented 2016-05-10 15:50:10 -0400
It seems to me the ultimate goal of Nutley and Turdeau is to totally annihilate the oil and gas industry in Alberta and maybe in all of Canada. They both live in a fantasy world where they think money grows on eco-friendly trees and everything that society needs will somehow be provided by socialist unionized government employees. Of course both are morons.
commented 2016-05-10 15:47:58 -0400
Seems Premier Notley’s quite the match to President Obama down our way; both have a keen talent for refashioning the facts..
commented 2016-05-10 15:40:23 -0400
It’s sad you won’t give the people the real information upon this story……. Why don’t you do a professional journalist job and talk about how the plane itself is retired and has been since 2013, taken out of commission for the 2015 BC fires and then deemed unusable because it’s 70 some years old. They aren’t even using it to fight the BC northern area fires, let alone Ft.Mac.
Had respect for some of the Rebel’s stories, but this stretch of the truth has me not even wanting to read Rebel stories anymore. Nice way to lie and generate hate with isn’t even true. :(
commented 2016-05-10 15:22:34 -0400
ROY JEANINE

Yep. Because in Texas, you’d be fucking thick.
commented 2016-05-10 13:08:49 -0400
According to the Globe & Mail the United States, Russia, Mexico, Australia, Taiwan, Israel and the Palestinian Authority all offered help and Trudeau turned his back on AB and turned them all down, saying that no International assistance was necessary. Of course him and Nutley are coordinating an up coming photo-op. That will be reassuring to the 80,000 plus who are basically homeless.
I think behind closed doors the Liberal/NDP mantra is burn baby burn.