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NC Air National Guard Officer Leads National Forest Fire Fighting Mission

  • Published
  • By Lt. Col. Robert Carver
  • Public Affairs Officer Air Expeditionary Group NCANG
Union County resident Col. Charles D. Davis III will command the national military mission charged with combating wildland forest fires known as the Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System.

"MAFFS is a team effort," said Davis, Operations Group commander, 145th Airlift Wing, located at the North Carolina Air National Guard base at Charlotte-Douglas Intl. airport.
"We protect lives and property from forest fires, and I'm proud to be a part of it."

As commander of the Air Expeditionary Group Wildland Fire Fighting, Davis will lead three Air National Guard and one U.S. Air Force Reserve Command units that fly military C-130 aircraft and use them as aerial tankers. Headquartered in Boise, Idaho, the Group controls MAFFS operations nationwide at the direction of the U.S. Forest Service.

A U.S. Air Force master navigator with more than 5,300 hours of military flying time, Davis, of Weddington, N.C., has more than 1,000 hours of combat time earned supporting Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom. In civilian life, he is an Airbus A330 Flight Crew Training Instructor at U.S. Airways.

Col. Davis will lead the MAFFS mission for the second year running, a job that typically passes from one MAFFS unit to another. He earned the post due to his leadership during the 2013 fire season, the sixth-busiest in the 41-year history of MAFFS.

MAFFS is a self-contained aerial firefighting system owned by the USFS. MAFFS modules are loaded into the cargo bays of military C-130 aircraft. Following USFS lead planes, aircrews can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant from the MAFFS modules along the leading edge of a forest fire in less than five seconds and cover an area a quarter of a mile long by 100 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, ground crews at a MAFFS tanker base can refill the modules in less than 12 minutes.

An interagency Department of Defense and USFS program, MAFFS provides aerial firefighting resources when commercial and private air tankers are no longer able to meet the needs of the Forest Service.

Each MAFFS wing provides two MAFFS-capable aircraft and the air and ground crews needed to operate them. The wings are the 145th Airlift Wing, North Carolina Air National Guard; 146th Airlift Wing, California Air National Guard; 153rd Airlift Wing, Wyoming Air National Guard; and the 302nd Airlift Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, in Colorado.

U.S. Northern Command is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept.11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities. It provides DoD capabilities for disaster response operations in support of the National Interagency Fire Center, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Emergency Management Agency, and state and local officials.