Sitting Idle While Southern California Burned


Rand Simberg points to this alarming-if-true report about firefighting resources that sat on the ground while the hillsides were being scorched. Excerpt:

The Southern California wildfires were raging in four counties and a thousand homes had already been lost, yet it would be a week before the Air National Guard fire-fighting C-130 air tankers could fly.

The Air National Guard has not been allowed to use its airborne fire-fighting resources in a timely fashion because of the claim by private airborne firefighters that the military unfairly competes with them. They keep the government at bay by threatening law suits based on the Economy Act of 1932 which bars the government from competing with the private sector. Powerful lobbies such as Helicopter Association International (HAI) have argued that until *every* private airborne fire fighter is employed fighting fires, the government cannot use its military assets to combat fires. So the big planes just sat on the ground while Southern California burned.