The province has no plans to hire the Hawaii Mars to fight fires in B.C. this summer.
According to the BC Wildfire service, they are concerned as to the age and efficiency of the planes.
“There are more modern and cost-effective aircraft available for use in B.C.’s varied terrain,” the province said. The Martin Mars waterbombers were originally built for World War II and retrofitted as firefighting lanes in the late 1950s.
Coulson Group CEO Wayne Coulson said that the Hawaii Mars is being repaired but that should the province ask, it would be ready to go by August.
In a factsheet provided by the province, it states that the Martin Mars waterbombers are at a disadvantage to its currently contracted planes. The provinces says that the Mars can draw water from only 113 bodies of water and that the suppressant delivery rate for the Abbotsford-based Conair Fire Boss air tankers is twice that of the Martin Mars.
The province said that Coulson Aviation has four helicopters signed under a master standing offer and that the company’s C-130 aircraft are only licensed to fight fires in the United States, not Canada. In order to operate the C-130s in Canada, the BC Wildfire Service said that they would have to go through a mutual aid agreement with the US Forest Service.
Coulson doesn’t believe that’s a legitimate reason to refuse the C-130.
“We offered the BC Forest Service our C-130. Putting the aircraft on a contract is a two hour exercise,” said Coulson. “We can operate the U.S.-registered aircraft under NAFTA in Canada, which we use to operate Canadian registered aircraft in the U.S. and vice versa.”