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

Walk into the forest in the Showcase Gallery

Group exhibit is focussed on trees

More Than Wood Art Gallery in 100 Mile House shows off artists

‘There is so much talent. It’s amazing’

Chekhov’s gun

A weekly family column for the 100 Mile Free Press

What are you doing on your Christmas break?

Megan Balbirnie 103 Mile House “I’m probably staying home then we’re going… Continue reading

Lawyer for Chinese exec detained by Canada says it’s ‘inconceivable’ she would flee

Meng Wanzhou was detained at the request of the U.S. during a layover at the Vancouver airport

Pipeline protesters arrested at B.C. university

Three protesters were arrested after TRU property allegedly vandalized with red paint

Goodale to ‘examine’ transfer of Rafferty to medium-security prison

Michael Rafferty was sentenced to life in prison in 2012 in the kidnapping, sexual assault and first-degree murder of Tori Stafford

‘Abhorrent’ condition of autistic B.C. boy shows flaws in care system: report

‘Charlie’ was underweight and ‘covered in feces’ when he was removed from his mom’s care

Minister appoints former CIRB chair to resolve Canada Post labour dispute

Postal workers engaged in weeks of rotating walkouts

B.C. man linked to human remains probe to stand trial on unrelated assault case

Curtis Wayne Sagmoen will appear on all three Vernon matters this week

B.C. lumber industry trade mission still has high hopes for China

Forests Minister Doug Donaldson cut short trip after Japan, Korea stops

CRD to hold byelection for Area F

Conrad Turcotte who won the seat in the Oct. 20 election has been unable to take his oath of office due to illness

Omar Khadr to ask for Canadian passport to travel, permission to speak to sister

He spent years in U.S. detention at Guantanamo Bay after he was caught when he was 15

Most Read