Redding Air Attack Base completes phase one of upgrades, boosting firefighting capabilities

April 16, 2024

Redding Air Attack Base upgrades enhance aerial firefighting capacity

The USDA Forest Service, in partnership with the Army Corps of Engineers and the City of Redding, announced the completion of Phase 1 of a significant enhancement project at the Redding Interagency Air Attack Base.

Scheduled for celebration on April 25, this project increases the airtanker loading capacity by 132%, enabling the simultaneous loading of five aircraft—up from just two.

The enhancements will support firefighting efforts across the Western United States, a region frequently affected by wildfires.

The project, which is part of a broader five-year, $28 million initiative, aims to boost the operational efficiency at the base significantly.

With the new pits, the base’s capacity to load fire retardant has expanded potentially to exceed 6 million gallons annually, compared to the 3 million gallons recorded in 2021.

Moreover, the new configuration eliminates waiting times for airtankers, offering direct taxiway access that facilitates quicker turnaround.

Deputy Director comments on the milestone

Yolanda Saldana, Deputy Director of Fire, Fuels, and Aviation Management for the Pacific Southwest Region, expressed her satisfaction with the progress: “Completing this phase is a huge milestone, greatly increasing our ability to accommodate five Next Generation airtankers and fill them at the same time.

“Our firefighting crews and the communities we serve will directly benefit from these efficiencies.”

Saldana also highlighted the next phase of the project, which includes replacing a 70-year-old hangar to provide a safer and more efficient workspace for firefighters.

“And now onto next steps—Phase 2 to replace the 70-year-old hangar—giving firefighters a safe, efficient place to operate from. Lots to celebrate being done, lots of work ahead.”

Historical context and future outlook

Originally inaugurated in the late 1960s, the Redding Air Attack Base has been a pivotal hub for wildfire suppression.

Initially a modest facility, the base has undergone various improvements over the decades to meet the growing demands of aerial firefighting.

FSJA Comment

The enhancements at the Redding Air Attack Base represent a significant development in the capabilities of aerial firefighting in the Western United States.

As wildfires continue to pose a major challenge in the region, the increased capacity and efficiency of the base are timely.

The completion of Phase 1 optimises the response times and prepares the facility for future expansions and improvements.

This project underscores the ongoing commitment to enhancing the effectiveness of wildfire management and support systems.

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