New equipment at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport to improve efforts against future wildfires

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will be home to a new portable air tanker base.

Austin-Bergstrom International Airport will be home to a new portable air tanker base.

A new portable air tanker base, which has the capacity to supply fire retardant to DC-10 firefighting aircraft, is now operational at Austin-Bergstrom International Airport, said Jacob Reagan, legislative director for State House Rep. John Cyrier, R-Bastrop.

“[The base is] a portable refueling station for fire retardant,” he said to Community Impact Newspaper. “The only other base in Texas that could refuel very large DC-10 air tankers is in Abilene.”

The equipment can be mobilized to other airports to allow for easier and quicker access to resources during a wildfire, Reagan said.

ABIA has tarmac space available for staging, operations and onsite quarters for flight crews.

“By law, pilots need to take periodic breaks between flights,” he said. “This will reduce the time of travel between a fire and [a] base and allow more time to be spent fighting a fire.”

Cyrier worked with Texas A&M Forest Service, Austin Fire Department and ABIA representatives to establish the air tanker base in Austin, according to a news release from his office.

“This tanker base represents a monumental advancement in wildfire preparedness for our area,” Cyrier said in the release. “We are better prepared today than ever before to manage wildfire emergencies and protect the lives and property of our families and communities.”

Cyrier represents House District 17, which includes communities affected by the 2015 Hidden Pines wildfire and the 2011 Bastrop Complex wildfire.

The base and equipment will be officially unveiled at a media event Feb. 16.