Improving access to military aircraft during civilian wildfires
Dubay, Steve E.
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Wildfires are a growing problem in the United States, and military aircraft are increasingly mobilized in support of civilian wildfire suppression efforts. The photogenic qualities of aircraft distributing a trail of red slurry over a wildfire increase the public’s expectation of fire suppression from the air. The problem is that Department of Defense (DOD) aircraft are not dispatched to civilian wildfires in a timely manner, resulting in lives lost, property destroyed, and critical infrastructure damaged. The research question considered by this thesis is, What improvements can be implemented to existing local, state, and federal protocols to provide a more timely response to civilian wildfires by DOD aircraft? The current system is complicated and confusing, involving federal laws, such as the Economy and Stafford acts; DOD doctrine and instruction, such as Defense Support to (of) Civil Authorities and Immediate Response Authority; and civilian agencies, such as the National Interagency Fire Center with its Military Use Handbook in the existing process to dispatch military aircraft to civilian wildfires. The results of the study recommend that (1) DOD aircraft be more closely coordinated with civilian aircraft via the IRA for responding to civilian wildfires, and that (2) the Economy and Stafford acts be modified to improve the efficiency with which military aircraft respond to civilian wildfires.
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