Each of the B.C. Forest Service's four Fire Boss aircraft can skim more than 3

New forest fire air tankers in service

Smaller amphibious planes offer more flexibility than the huge Martin Mars water bombers they replaced

B.C.’s new amphibious water-scooping aircraft have been sent to a forest fire near Hay River in the Northwest Territories.

Four Air Tractor “Fire Boss” planes and one Cessna Grand Caravan command aircraft went into service this spring. They are based in Revelstoke, but can be moved to other locations in B.C. as conditions dictate.

Their first mission of the 2014 forest fire season was supporting ground crews at a fire near Kaslo on June 9. The planes, operated by Conair Group, delivered 222,361 litres of water and foam in 75 minutes.

The Fire Boss fleet replaces two Martin Mars water bombers that were contracted by the B.C. Forest Service from the Coulson Group of Companies, based at Sproat Lake on Vancouver Island.

Forests Minister Steve Thomson said the smaller aircraft can be deployed more quickly, operate from more than 1,700 bodies of water in B.C. and can be split up as needed to assist with multiple fires.