Wyoming Air Guard 153rd AW activated again for firefighting
By Rusty Ridley, Wyoming National Guard
/ Published September 18, 2020
CHEYENNE, Wyo. – The Wyoming Air National Guard's 153rd Airlift Wing has once again been activated by extension to support fire suppression efforts in California.
One C-130 Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped aircraft with eight crew members was departing Sept. 17 to Sacramento McClellan Airport where they will operate in the area until Oct. 3. The aircraft and crew join eight maintenance personnel who traveled Sept. 16 via commercial air. The request for assistance may be extended as support requirements are determined by incident commanders.
"We are always ready to support this critical mission,” said Col. Barry Deibert, 153rd Airlift Wing commander. "Our goal is to support aircraft operations in order to save lives, protect property and support the multi-agency firefighting response effort.”
MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the U.S. Forest Service that can discharge 3,000 gallons of fire retardant in 5 to 10 seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in as few as eight minutes on the ground.
Four C-130 wings support the MAFFS mission including three Air National Guard units: Nevada's 152nd Airlift Wing, California's 146th Airlift Wing and Wyoming's 153rd Airlift Wing; and one U.S. Air Force Reserve unit, Colorado's 302nd Airlift Wing. Additionally, personnel assigned to the Air Expeditionary Group in Boise, Idaho, assist with administration and coordination and function as liaisons with the National Interagency Fire Center.
The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command at Peterson Air Force Base, provides unique military support to firefighting efforts when requested by NIFC and approved by the secretary of defense. These diverse mission assets are prepared to respond quickly and effectively to protect lives, property, critical infrastructure and natural resources, and can include, but are not limited to, MAFFS, military helicopters and ground forces capable of supporting the firefighting efforts.