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

Parkland musical theatre lights up the stage with Grease

North Saanich school stages show Jan. 30 to Feb. 2

City of Victoria endorses potential class action lawsuit against fossil fuel giants

Data will be gathered to quantify how much environmental damage the city has faced

Toronto Arrows players take aim at youth rugby clinic

Juan de Fuca team offers get acquainted clinics

‘Blue Monday’ isn’t real, but depression can be

CMHA encourages people to prioritize their mental health

Braves host 2019 Prospects Game, Saturday at Pearkes

Campbell River to host VIJHL All-Star Game, Sunday

UPDATE: B.C. legislature managers accused of excessive travel, personal expense claims

Clerk Craig James, security chief Gary Lenz call allegations ‘completely false’

B.C. man fined $10,000 after leaving moose to suffer before death

Surrey man was convicted last week on three Wildlife Act charges

POLL: Should people have to license their cats?

The Victoria Natural History Society has sent letters to 13 municipalities in… Continue reading

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers wanted list for the week of Jan. 15

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Anti-pipeline group wants NEB to consider impact of emissions, climate change

Stand.earth filed NEB motion asking to apply same standard to the project as it did with Energy East pipeline

B.C. man charged in 2014 snake venom death of toddler

Henry Thomas was taking care of the North Vancouver girl the day before she died

B.C.’s largest public-sector union wants inquiry into money laundering, drugs

Union officials say Premier John Horgan and Attorney General David Eby have not ruled out the possibility of a public inquiry

Teen in confrontation with Native American: I didn’t provoke

Nick Sandmann of Covington Catholic High School said he was trying to defuse the situation

Suspect allegedly armed with handgun robs Island gas station

Incident occurred Sunday night in Nanaimo

Most Read