A special team of pilots is on high alert if a significant fire breaks out in Northern Michigan.
Dauntless Air travels the country depending on where there is a high risk for wildland fire.
“We are a quick response, initial attack tool to get on the fire as soon as it pops, and the quicker we can get there and start delivering water, the greater success we’ll have in controlling that fire,” said David Fennen, Pilot, Fire Boss.
They have Fire Boss planes, and they are stationed at the Gaylord airport.
“Gaylord, Michigan is very central to our operations area. The northern half of the Lower Peninsula and also through the U.P. becomes very wooded, what we also call the urban interface area where we have housing intermixed with the wildland areas,” said Chad Runyan, North Zone Aviation Officer, U.S. Forest Service Program.
When a call comes in, it only takes 15 minutes for the planes to be up in the air, and once up, they head to a water source.
“We go to any lake where we can scoop. We like to have a mile-long lake, but with the right wind conditions, we can scoop up to 800 gallons of water in about a half a mile of water,” said Fennen.
After the pilots load up their fire boss, they head to fight the fire.
“We take the heat out of the fire so the guys on the ground can get close enough to do the job that they need to do,” said Fennen.
Dauntless Air expects to be stationed in Gaylord until June.