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Air force reservists to begin MAFFS training

Air Force Reservists to begin MAFFS training.

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. - Air Force reservists from the 302nd Airlift Wing at Peterson Air Force Base will begin Modular Air Fire Fighting System training Friday.

Crews will begin with classroom training Friday. Then, they'll fly over remote target sites in the Pike-San Isabel National Forest, Bureau of Land Management land and military ranges, dropping potable water from MAFFS-equipped C-130 aircraft. The training is meant to prepare the reservists, aircraft and supporting personnel.

"We're working on our accuracy. We're working on making sure that we have the airplane in the right space and just get used to the environment," Major Rich Pantusa, of the 731st Airlift Squadron said.

The MAFFS C-130 can drop up to 3,000 gallons of water or retardant during each flyover. They are crucial to help other resources fighting the fire.

"What the retardant does, is it slows the fire down and that allows time for our firefighters on the ground to dig containment lines and that is ultimately how fires are suppressed," said Lawrence Lujan, fire information officer for the U.S. Forest Service in the Rocky Mountain Region.

Lujan said that the Forest Service is expecting a 'normal' fire season in 2014, meaning it expects less than 100,000 acres to burn across the state.

"This year we will see fire because fire is part of this landscape," Lujan said.  "But that doesn't necessarily mean we're going to have large fires. We're not expecting anything like we saw in 2002, 2012 and 2013."

Training will last from Friday through Tuesday.

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