U.S. Forest Service adds new air tankers to its fleet

U.S. Forest service prepares for active fire season by adding seven new air tankers

POSTED: 10:06 PM PDT May 06, 2013    UPDATED: 12:07 PM PDT May 07, 2013 
MAFFS C-130 Air Tanker Fire Wildfire
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY, Calif. -

The Springs Fire is just the beginning of what fire officials are expecting to be a very active wildfire season.

The U.S. Forest service is preparing by adding seven new large air tankers to its fleet.  The new planes are expected to be faster, and able to drop a bigger payload of fire retardant than their predecessors.

Large planes play a major role in the fight to quickly put out the flames.

"The air tankers are a component of firefighting.  You have to have the boots on the ground, the fire engines and air support. So it all works together," explained Captain David Sadecki with the Santa Barbara County Fire Department.

The newer planes join the aging fleet of eight large tankers.  Some of those have been used for decades.  In fact, similar vintage models have been restored act as flying museums.

A long anticipated $158 million contract includes a converted DC-10, and several other models.

Local fire agencies will be holding a press conference later this week to talk about how they are preparing for this year's fire season.