Wildfires in the southeast may see a quicker response from the air by a local aerial application company, thanks to a provincial government initiative to contract 6 such operators to provide assistance this fire season.

Farr Air's headquarters is in Weyburn, and they have bases in Estevan, Carlyle, and other communities around the region. While a normal day consists of skimming several feet above the crops, Owner Jeff Farr is among the 26 pilots so far trained to do the same over an inferno.

"We have five aircraft, and they are all capable of assisting in that. Most of our pilots have taken the training, some of them still have to do that, but we've got enough on staff here that we can assist for the 2018 season."

"I think it's a great opportunity to help the fire departments in saving people and property from more damage. I'm just glad to be able to assist in it. We're glad to be a part of the communities and able to offer that support service," he said.

Farr Air's fleet consists of 3 turbine Thrush 510P's each capable of carrying 500 gallons, a radial Thrush S-R2 holding 350 gallons, and a Weatherly 620B that holds 250 gallons.

Justin, Jody and Jeff Farr stand with one of their aircraft. Photo by Tobie Hainstock, courtesy of Jeff Farr.

"We will only be dropping water and foam, we're not certified to drop retardant. That's what they're usually using in British Columbia or areas where they've got that type of fires. Our aircraft are pretty limited to just using water and foam for what we can drop here," Farr explained.

He noted that the maneuvers in the air will be similar to those used in aerial application, but coordination with everyone else battling the blaze will be important, which was stressed in the training he received at the beginning of February in Prince Albert.

"The biggest thing is the communications with the emergency services crews on the ground to make sure that we're on the same wavelength and we both understand where we're supposed to be putting the water when we drop it. It's not bad, once you go through it and you learn the terminology. They were great, they put on a great seminar, and there's going to be recurrent training going on with them as time goes on. We'll get it more fine tuned, and it should run pretty smooth."

One of the major areas of appeal for the smaller aircraft doing the job is the faster response time and quicker access to the scene.

"There was a grass fire three miles from the airport the other day, and if we were called out, we could have been on that in half an hour and dropped water on it. Whereas, with those big planes up north, it'd take half the day to get them down here."

While crop duster pilots often have the convenience and skill set to land on a grid road to fill the tank, Farr's units will still use actual runways.

"The nice thing is that we can work off of smaller airports. There's some grass runways around that you can't put the big aircraft on, and we've got some grass strips that we work Ag off of here too that we could utilize for these types of operations."

"We're looking forward to being able to be part of this program and see it grow as time goes on," he concluded.

 

More Local News

Busy Docket For City Council

From the conditions of the streets and highways in southeast Saskatchewan, to the amount of money councillors and the mayor recieve, a number of major topics were discussed at council last night.…

Road Bans Come Into Affect

As of midnight Sunday night, road bans are officially on for the grid roads in the RM of Estevan, as well as Benson and Coalfields. Vehicles over 12,000lbs are barred from driving on all grid roads…

There Was A 78% Increase In Workplace Fatalities Last Year According To WCB

The Workers Compensation Board of Saskatchewan has released some of there injury and fatality numbers for the year 2018. While the ten-year average has seen a steady decline in the number of…

The B&T Gun Show Back For Its 6th Year

One could make the argument that the safest place in Estevan was at the B&T Gun Show this weekend. The Floors were jam-packed with hunters, sportsmen, and enthusiasts. The Wylie Mitchell Hall was…

Southeast College to Implement Business Management Essentials Program

Southeast College has plans to implement a Business Management Essentials program. Dion McGrath, President, and CEO of Southeast College shared some highlights of their plans in a media release on…

Changes That Simplify Payments To Foster Parents

The Saskatchewan Foster Families Association is applauding the Saskatchewan Government's announcement that they will simplify the payment structure for foster families. Currently, foster families…

Autism Funding Comes Up Short

With the recently released budget, the provincial government bumped the number of funding families with children with autism under the age of six receive. The funding is being increased from $4,000 a…

Envision Counseling Get's A Boost With Budget

In the 2019-20 Provincial Budget, it will include a strong focus on mental health. Funding for targeted mental health and addictions initiatives ins increasing by nearly $30 million in this budget to…

C.U.P.E Not Happy With The Provincial Budget

With the provincial budget released on Wednesday, there were cheers and boos from all corners of the province, one group that has almost nothing good to say about the budget is the Canadian Union of…

EPS Deal With Multiple Calls Last Night

The Estevan Police Service had another steady night last night with issues ranging from assault to theft there was no shortage of work for the boys in blue. Sgt. Tyler McMillan gave us some of the…

DiscoverEstevan.com is Estevan's only source for community news and information such as weather and classifieds.

Search the Biz Guide

Login