Members of the San Bernardino International Airport Authority (SBIAA) gathered via videoconference to get an update on how San Bernardino International Airport (SBD) is playing a “vital logistical role” in the multiple wildfires burning across the state and to elect a new treasurer.

SBD Airport Manager Nikolas Persson told commission members “We inevitably experience fires that cause extreme devastation and this year being no different.

“SBD does have a tanker base from the U.S. Forest Service on site, in which we play a vital logistical role for both tankers, helicopters and the 747 tanker.”

Persson said, “The tanker base will hit a record unfortunately for fire retardant that left this base here, they just hit 5 million gallons yesterday [Tuesday, Sept. 22].”

The average amount used by the tanker base each year is 1.5 million gallons said, Persson.

SBIAA Secretary and councilmember from the city of Loma Linda Rhodes Rigsby asked, “How many gallons a DC-10 or 747 hold in one load?” According to Director of Aviation Mark Gibbs, the DC-10 can hold about 12,000 gallons. The large helicopters hold 2,500 gallons.

Persson said that just about an hour before the meeting 100 firefighters from the country of Mexico arrived via charter at SBD. These firefighters he said will be deployed throughout the region. He said that the Forest Service has a long-standing agreement with the Mexican government and the Forest Service sent down its personal in 1989 to help Mexico with its wildfires.

SBIAA Vice-president and mayor of the city of San Bernardino John Valdivia said “I’d love to meet the firefighters from Mexico, especially since there’s a potential opportunity to build that good neighbor relationship with the country of Mexico as we explore passenger air services.”

Valdivia went on to say “Along with Mayor [Frank] Navarro [city of Colton] I think it would be important for us to at least go thank them and maybe go have dinner with them at their hotel or wherever they’re eating. I just want to 'Thank you' the Mexican people for sending their firefighters over.”

Executive Director Michael Burrows said he would check with their counterparts over at Forest Service to see if something could be set up.

In other action, Burrows said that SBIAA had been wired in $69,000 on Wednesday, Sept. 23. This money came from the FAA through CARES Act funding for coronavirus related expenses.

The commission also voted to amend its conflict of interest code, which must be done under the Political Reform Act on a biennial basis to accurately reflect existing positions at the airport.

The commission voted unanimously on the appointment of the Inland Valley Development Agency Director of Finance Mark W. Cousineau as the treasurer of SBIAA. Cousineau will be taking over for former treasurer of IVDA William Garay who had been working for SBIAA in a month-to-month as his contract expired in June.

The next meeting for SBIAA is on Wednesday, Oct. 28.

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