Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Julia Brownley (D-Westlake Village) and her colleagues have spearheaded a letter to the House Armed Services Committee asking to retain language from the House-passed National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to ensure continued state control of Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System (MAFFS) aircraft.
The Department of Defense has proposed to shift MAFFS control to the federal government, which would prevent the governor from utilizing MAFFS to fight fires in California. Instead, the governors would need to request this aid from the DOD, potentially delaying critical firefighting air support and impacting the continuity of pay and benefits for MAFFS units. For more than 40 years, the MAFFS has been performing this mission under Title 32, which has provided needed flexibility for the states. Since coming to Congress, Brownley has been working with her colleagues from California, Colorado, and North Carolina, which also have MAFFS units, to retain state control.
“In California, we know all too well the devastating effects of wildfires on our homes and businesses, and I strongly believe we must ensure that state governors retain the authority to utilize all available firefighting resources, including the MAFFS aircraft at Point Mugu,” said Congresswoman Brownley. “Shifting control of MAFFS crews away from the state to the federal government may jeopardize California’s ability to quickly utilize these aircraft during fire seasons.”
“Rep. Brownley knows just how critical our aerial firefighting assets are for California, especially Ventura County, which is home to four of the twenty largest fires in California history,” said Maj. Gen. David S. Baldwin, Adjutant General of the California National Guard. “Today’s action by Rep. Brownley shows she understands that California must have the freedom to fight all fires in a timely, effective manner if we are to successfully protect the health and safety of all Californians. We are grateful for her efforts.”