Cyrier, John P.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 02/07/2017
Rep. John Cyrier announces new air tanker base to fight Central Texas wildfires
Media event to unveil new equipment scheduled for February 16
AUSTIN, TX—State Rep. John Cyrier (Lockhart) announces the establishment of a portable air tanker base at Austin Bergstrom International Airport (ABIA) capable of equipping large, Type 1 air tankers to drop fire retardant during wildfire events in Central Texas and surrounding regions.
Texas previously had only one portable air tanker base capable of supporting large air tankers during wildfire events, which is based in Abilene. This has forced the state to rely on assistance from bases as far away as Tennessee, New Mexico, and Arizona to battle large wildfires, as well as much smaller aircrafts.
“This tanker base represents a monumental advancement in wildfire preparedness for our area,” said state Rep. John Cyrier, whose Central Texas district includes communities affected by the 2015 Hidden Pines wildfire and the 2011 Bastrop Complex wildfire. Together, these fires burned 39,000 acres and destroyed more than 1700 homes.
A pilot with more than 1500 hours of flight time, Cyrier flew aerial observation during the 2011 Bastrop Complex fire.
The move to establish the base follows a key recommendation from the Lost Pines Property Owners Fire Protection Task Force, a citizen committee formed by Bastrop County residents who were affected by the Hidden Pines fire.
Cyrier worked with the citizens committee, Texas A&M Forest Service, Austin Fire Department and representatives of ABIA to strike an agreement for the tanker base.
The agreement makes onsite real estate and tarmac space available at ABIA for staging and operations, including onsite quarters for flight crews. Equipment for the base will be purchased by the Texas A&M Forest Service through funding provided by the Texas Legislature via the Texas Wildfire Protection Plan.
Firefighters from the Austin Fire Department and surrounding areas will be trained on the operation of the equipment. The presence of this tanker base, together with local trained emergency personnel, will dramatically increase the speed with which these assets can be mobilized to fight wildfires in Central Texas. The equipment is also portable and can be mobilized to fight wildfires in other parts of the state.
“I am grateful for the countless hours of hard work by the citizens committee and all those who worked to make this air tanker base a reality. We are better prepared today than ever before to manage wildfire emergencies and protect the lives and property of our families and communities,” said Cyrier.
A media event to unveil the tanker base equipment will be held at ABIA on Thursday, February 16, at 9:00 A.M. Please note: Due to airport security measures, an RSVP is required to attend this event. It will be closed to general admittance. For more information about this event, please contact the office of Rep. John Cyrier at (512) 463-0682.