Tester statement on additional firefighting airplanes

(BIG SANDY, Mont.) – Senator Jon Tester today released the following statement after the U.S. Interior Department announced that three additional airplanes are now available to fight wildfires on federal lands in Montana:

“Providing our brave, hard-working firefighters with as many tools as possible to do their jobs will help save lives and property.  These men and women on the ground are doing an outstanding job, and getting these planes into the rotation as quickly and as safely as possible will help them contain these fires.  I’ll keep working to secure all necessary resources to protect Montanans and their livelihoods.”

Tester pushed the Interior Department to accelerate the approval process needed to allow two of the planes, flown in from Canada, to operate on federal lands in Montana. 

Tester’s fight for more services to fight wildfires dates back months before Montana’s fires started in late June.  He first warned the Forest Service in February about its failure to add firefighting airplanes before questioning its chief on the subject in April. 

Last week, in the wake of the wildfires spreading across the American West, he took to the Senate floor to call on Congress to start providing firefighters with the resources necessary to protect Americans.