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

Okanagan air quality improves slightly

Index for entire Okanagan Valley rated at 10+, or very high risk, because of wildfire smoke

Fire season takes mental toll on Okanagan residents

CMHA suggests some mental health coping mechanisms

Motorists urged to steer clear of Mabel forest road due to wildfires

Road closure in effect from kilometre 10-59 to give BC Forestry crews space

Child dies in boating incident on Kal Lake

A North Vancouver family was boating on Kal Lake when the incident occured

Syrian refugee to share his story during Kelowna’s pride parade

Anas Qartoumeh, a gay Syrian refugee, will be this year’s Grand Marshal for the Pride March.

Average Canadian family spends 43% of income on taxes: study

Fraser Institute’s consumer report shows taxes accounting for larger chunk of income each year

Breaking: Trinity Western University changes controversial covenant

Pledge forbidding sexual intimacy outside of marriage to be optional at Langley university: report

Okanagan winery gets global recognition

Mission Hill is being recognized as having one of the top vineyard designs in the world.

48 sockeye, harbour seal seized from poachers caught on B.C. river

Charges pending after two poachers arrested for salmon fishing at night

Vancouver 6th most liveable city in the world: report

West coast city narrowly beats Toronto, but is bested by Calgary

Kelowna cannabis producer issued Canada sales license

Flowr Group already approved as B.C. marijuana dispensary supplier

Plaque that replaced Macdonald statue at Victoria city hall vandalized

Less than 24 hours after plaque was installed, an ‘X’ had been scratched through the centre

UPDATED: Cars plunge in Italian highway bridge collapse; 25 killed

Five more people are injured and in serious condition

Controlled burn slows down Snowy wildfire growth

BC Wildfire Service said back burn helped slow wildfire growth near Keremeos

Most Read