As B.C. burns, petition started to bring back old water-bombers

Vancouver, BC, Canada / News Talk 980 CKNW | Vancouver's News. Vancouver's Talk

A petition is gathering signatures to plead with the B.C. Government to reactivate the old MARS water bombers, which are currently doing nothing.

Port Alberni’s Chris Alemany says the province didn’t renew the contract for the water bomber as it moved to a new, smaller, style of firefighting plane.

“The number one thing is capacity. They are the worlds largest bombers. They can drop the most water on the fire in the smallest amount of time especially in initial attack. They can knock out a fire like nothing else. I think that is their biggest asset.”

Alemany says there are two MARS bombers just sitting there doing nothing, although one will take some work to get it ship shape.

As for the other: “Hawaii MARS, it fought fires as recently as last year. It is just sitting up high and dry on land. Without a contract, the company of course isn’t going to be able to get it ready to go. So it needs a contract so that it can get it going and be up in the air.”

He says his petition has garnered about 1,000 signatures in its first 24 hours on


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  1. This is a great SOUNDING idea.But as great as these planes have been,I believe that they are more than 60 years old.While airplances are not my area of expertise,I believe that just maintain them would be a very expensive proposition.Parts must be getting very rare by now,and when I saw a TV program showing one of these planes in action they said that it costs $3000 per hour in fuel alone to fly that plane.And when they took it to Mexico to fight some fires there,they sent quite a few truck and quite a large crew to keep in in the air.
    I’m not saying that there is no use for the Hawaii Mars.But surely newer technology would give us bigger bang for the buck than this massive plane.
    For now,I have reservations about both “change,org” and Chris Alemany.Both seem to be more about activism than actual experts on the subject.

  2. Having the Mars water bomber on standby for $750,00. dollars a year by the Provincial Government, I would say this would be a cheap insurance policy. Its no different than insuring your possessions, home or automobile.

  3. People.

    The bombers were never owned by the province.
    They were once owned by a group of sawmills. They are now owned by the Coulson family in Port Alberni.
    They are not idle, they are a profitable company that charges for their service and they are recruited world wide.

    It is their lack of modern sophistication that is their value.
    They have a wingspan over 100 feet long and a stall speed of 60 mph and are powered by massive high torque low revving RR engines.
    They can pick up swimming pool volumes of water in 13 seconds.

    Often I hear them coming from miles away when they fly east over Vancouver to fight fires in the Okanagan or elsewhere.

    On trips abroad, where they don’t fly back that night, of course they take a pit crew via land as there are only 2 seats in them.
    Who is “Port Alberni’s Chris Alemany” and which bar did CKNW find him in to do the interview?

  4. If the owner can,t use them and will sell them CHEAP buy the buggers fix em and use them. I can remember the fire crews working for days with no results and the Mars coming in and the fire was put out NOW.

  5. As a preventative measure in these dry conditions I can only say that multiple drops of a swimming pool or more of water can certainly do more good than having the MARS sit idle….?