The T-137 Fireliner carries out a series of drops as part of its FAA testing in July. PHOTO COURTESY DAVE CIBLEY

Martin Mars unlikely to see firefighting action in Port Alberni

Water bomber ‘isn’t anywhere ready’ for fires burning in its Vancouver Island backyard

With two fires currently burning in the Alberni Valley, there are calls to bring the Martin Mars water bombers into action.

But Port Alberni is unlikely to see the vintage aircraft in the sky anytime soon.

Wayne Coulson, CEO of Coulson Flying Tankers, confirmed on Thursday, Aug. 9 that the Mars “isn’t anywhere ready” for firefighting action.

Read: Martin Mars waterbombers firefighting days are past

The Hawaii Mars has not flown since 2016, when it was damaged at an air show, and the Philippine Mars is no longer in active service. Coulson had announced in May that his company was trying to find a new home for the water bombers, as Coulson Air Tankers was focusing on its new fleet of air tankers. Coulson’s five air tankers and helicopters are currently in the U.S.

Although airtankers and helicopters are a highly visible part of wildfire response, they are only there to provide support to the crews on the ground, according to BC Wildfire Service. Fire retardants, foams and water are used to cool fires and slow their progress, rather than put them out.

At full operational readiness, the BC Wildfire Service operates a fleet of 16 airtankers and eight “bird-dog” planes that direct the group to the most effective and safe drop locations. The fleet also includes four water bombers that are capable of skimming up to 3,025 litres of water in 15 seconds.

Coulson Aviation is currently working on the B737 Fireliner—the first firefighting Boeing 737 in the world. The tanker is parked in Port Alberni, waiting on Federal Aviation Administration approval. Once it is approved, says Coulson, it will go on contract in California with the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection.

Just Posted

Central Okanagan School District introduces gender neutral language into policies

Edits include implementing more gender neutral pronouns like “they”

Overdose deaths down nearly 50 per cent in Kelowna in past year

In 2019, there were 27 illicit overdose deaths in Kelowna, down from 55 deaths

Ride-share electric scooters hit the streets of Kelowna in 2020

Loop is an electric scooter sharing service headquartered in Vancouver

Petition started to change location of selected homeless shelter in West Kelowna

The city, province and BC Housing selected a site on Stevens Road for a 40-bed temporary shelter

Central Okanagan School District considers expanding whistleblower policy

The change would allow employees to report cases of financial misconduct to independent third party

VIDEO: Federal Liberals’ throne speech welcomes opposition’s ideas

Trudeau will need NDP or Bloc support to pass legislation and survive confidence votes

VIDEO: Rockslide closes Highway 93 in Fairmont Hot Springs

Geotechnical team called in to do an assessment after rocks fell from hoodoos

Petition calls for appeal of ex-Burns Lake mayor’s sentence for sex assault

Prosecution service says Luke Strimbold’s case is under review

Northwest B.C. wildlife shelter rescues particularly tiny bear cub

Shelter co-founder says the cub weighs less than a third of what it should at this time of year

Independent Investigations Office seeks witnesses following arrest in Penticton

The male resisted arrest at approximately 8:40 a.m. and sustained a head injury

Sicamous Eagles defeat Summerland Steam in overtime decision

Junior B hockey teams faced off in Summerland on Dec. 5

BC firefighters to help battle Australian bushfires

Canada sent 22 people, including 7 from B.C.

B.C. NDP touts the end of MSP premiums

Horgan, James held news conference to reiterate that people will get their last bill this month

Most Read