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Agencies Get Up To Speed On Latest Firefighting Aircraft

PORT HUENEME ( — With more frequent red-flag alerts combined with Southern California's extreme drought conditions, state and federal agencies are getting up to speed on the latest firefighting aircraft.

"I'm focused on flying, and my co-pilot actually pulls the trigger and releases the load," said Lt. Colonel Bryan Allen, while at the controls of a specially equipped C-130 J Hercules air tanker as it made a 3,000-gallon water drop.

"We're one of only four wings in the country that do it," Allen said.

Allen was among 100 firefighting personnel who have been training at the Channel Islands Air National Guard Station in Port Hueneme since Sunday for Modular Airborne Fire Fighting Systems, or MAFFs, training and certification.

"Cal Fire has one of the largest department air fleets in the world, total of 51 aircraft statewide, so when we have major wildfires going throughout the state, and we need to supplement our aircraft, we bring them in," Cal Fire's Richard Cordova said.

The week-long training includes firefighters from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, the U.S. Forest Service, Cal Fire and the Bureau of Land Management.

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