Startup Stories: United Aerial Firefighters Association
New associations launch to fill a void in their sector. Here, the United Aerial Firefighters Association tells us what got them started, how they’re succeeding, and what they plan to do next.
Starting point. Several aerial firefighting operators have joined together to form the first industry association dedicated to serving and fostering safety and standardization in the aerial firefighting community: the United Aerial Firefighters Association.
It’s probably long past due that this organization start,” John Gould, UAFA president and CEO of 10 Tanker Air Carrier, told Aviation Week. “The wildfire aviation business is a pretty big part of [the wildfire industry] in the U.S.—that’s a two-and-a-half to $3 billion-a-year business.”
Early work. According to a press release [PDF], the goal of UAFA—which is headquartered in Washington, DC—is to inform policymakers and legislators about important issues concerning the increasingly critical nature of aerial wildland firefighting.
“We don’t really feel like we have a seat at the table when it comes to talking about changes that could be made or initiatives that could be put forth to make us more standardized [and] safer,” Gould said to Aviation Week.
Federal contracting reform will be an early focus of UAFA, according to Gould. The association would like to see contract lengths extended, with more assurance and predictability of contract awards—goals that member companies believe they are more likely to achieve by presenting a united front.
Next steps. “We’ve seen tremendous change occur in wildland fire aviation over the last 20 years,” said Gould in a press release. “As we look ahead, these challenges will only become more significant. While individual organizations within the industry will always be competitive, we believe the collective expertise represented within UAFA membership will help to ensure our industry continues to grow with the innovation, safety, and standardization necessary to deliver the best service possible to our customers.”