State fire officials sign contract with Global SuperTanker; plane awaiting certification

Posted at 6:19 AM, Jul 06, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-06 08:21:02-04

DENVER — The Colorado Division of Fire Prevention and Control (DFPC) has signed a call-when-needed contract with Global SuperTanker to use its 747 to fight Colorado's ongoing wildfires.

This is welcome news. The Colorado Springs-based aircraft hasn't made drops over any of Colorado's current fires. It is all due to the lack of a contract.

"Colorado is our home base, and there is nothing we'd like do be doing more than working alongside the brave men and women currently fighting some of the worst fires the state has ever seen," said Global SuperTanker CEO Jim Wheeler.

MAP: Here are the major wildfires currently burning in Colorado

There is still a snag in the plan. The plane needs to be certified because of a software upgrade that allows communication with other air support.

"The forest service certification is necessary to utilize interagency resources including retardant and lead planes," said Caley Fisher with the Division of Fire Prevention and Control. "Every aerial resource has to go through these types of certifications."

There's no estimated time when the aircraft will officially get to work over Colorado.   

The Boeing 747 is capable of delivering multiple payload drops thanks to pressurized tanks that hold a total of 19,200 gallons. It can drop water, fire retardant or suppressant. The aircraft can make up to eight drops in a single flight.