PRINCETON, Minn. – The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources is upgrading its firefighting fleet for the 2105 season while saving money in the process.
The DNR announced Friday it has added four new Fire Boss aircrafts and two single engine airtankers to the team, replacing the antiquated CL-215s the state used for more than a decade.
"The aircraft itself was OK, but the engines are getting old," said Ron Stoffel, wildfire suppression supervisor for the Minnesota DNR. "They haven't been made since the Korean War."
To replace just one of the CL-215s with its new model, the CL-415, it would cost the state about $35 million dollars. Instead, the DNR decided to lease the smaller, more efficient Fire Boss planes.
The switch will save the state an estimated $700,000 annually, according to the DNR.
The Amphibious Air Tractor 802F Fire Boss planes are outfitted by Saint Paul company Fire Boss, LLC.,
"The airplane is much more efficient, versatile, and lot cheaper than the airplanes that the state of Minnesota just sold," said Bob Wiplinger, president and CEO of Fire Boss.
The DNR said it will have the capability of reaching more fires from the air as they now have more planes at their service.
The state no longer owns any aircraft used to fire wildfires.
The DNR said it is leasing the six single-engine planes from Appleton, MN company Aero Spray, which also operates the planes.
The two CL-215s owned by the state will be auctioned off, according to the DNR.