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Province adding sprayer planes to help fight wildfires
Published Thursday, May 3, 2018 4:54PM CST
Last Updated Friday, May 4, 2018 10:31AM CST
The province will be using sprayer planes to help fight wildfires this summer.
Warm, dry conditions could spark a dangerous situation in Saskatchewan.
The sprayer planes are usually just for spraying pesticides. This year, they’re being added to Saskatchewan’s firefighting arsenal.
“They have a tank, they can hold a lot of water,” said James Pottage, operations manager for provincial airways. “So, they are good for fighting fires.”
The Single Engine Air Tanker (SEAT) program has helped 26 pilots in southern Saskatchewan get licensed and trained to fly purpose-built sprayer planes to fight fires in case of an emergency.
The government has partnered with six air-application companies to deliver the expanded service.
“It’s been around in other parts of the world for a long time,” Pottage said. “They’re trying to bring it into Saskatchewan and utilize a lot of these SEAT aircrafts to actually fight fires.”
The program is coming after an exceptionally dry summer in 2017. The dry conditions have continued into 2018.
The province says the new program will have planes in the air soon.
“We haven’t used them yet, but we are working out the protocol so those will be active by the summer,” said provincial fire commissioner Duane McKay.
In the event of a fire, the program will notify the closest company. Firefighters will establish a connection with the pilot and the air team will work with ground crews to battle the blaze.
While many of the provincial airway’s planes are currently grounded and undergoing maintenance, many more are ready for the call.
“We’re excited for the potential of a program like this,” Pottage said. “It allows for us to fly our airplanes a little more.”
Based on a report by CTV Regina's Josh Diaz