As relief efforts continue in Texas and first responders ramp up in preparation of hurricane Irma’s landfall, EPIC’s supply and dispatch teams are working around the clock to ensure fixed-base operators (FBOs), government agencies and commercial airlines are supplied with fuel. In addition to the hurricane relief and preparation efforts, the company continues to dispatch aviation fuels to FBOs and fire bases supporting aerial firefighting operations in the Western United States.
“We’re doing everything we can to ensure fuel is available for hurricane relief efforts, evacuations in the South as well as the ongoing fire support missions in the West,” said Lee Jones, vice president of supply for EPIC Fuels. “While we’re working around the clock, we also want to take a moment to thank our FBOs, as well as our fuel transportation and refinery partners, who have been tirelessly working to ensure fuel is available and aerial operations continue no matter what the situation.”
EPIC reports that many of its FBOs are acting as distribution hubs for relief supplies as well as for search and rescue operations. Even those outside the immediate affected area are pitching in to help. For example, the Cleburne Regional Municipal Airport, located an hour south of Fort Worth, collected thousands of pounds of relief supplies and has used a vintage DC-9 to deliver water, food and clothing and other supplies into the affected area. Another example is Natchez–Adams County Airport, located in Southwest Mississippi, which is offering a fuel discount for all disaster relief flights. EPIC employees have also stepped up to lend a hand. For example, Southwest Region Sales Manager Mike Jackson assembled and shipped care packages, including food, water and clothes, for an FBO crew stranded by the flooding.
With refineries in the Houston area down, EPIC’s supply team sourced fuel from other areas to ensure a reliable fuel supply for general aviation, commercial and government customers throughout the region. Jones said that he and his team have been inspired by the efforts of its fuel transportation partners for their determination and dedication to deliver fuel loads. EPIC partner trucking companies such as Michigan-based Pinnacle Express, who have worked with local authorities in Texas to find the safest routes to deliver fuel to FBOs and remote fueling stations.
Jones also praised supply and transportation partners in the north east, including trucking outfits Samuel Coraluzzo Co. Inc., Prospect Transportation, Inc. and the PBF Energy refinery in New Jersey for their efforts in resupplying locations impacted by the closing and subsequent slow reopening of the Colonial pipeline.
EPIC says it is also working with fuel transport companies and suppliers in preparation for hurricane Irma’s landfall later this week in south Florida. “While we’re not sure exactly where we’ll be needed, we’ve taken steps to be prepared as we did prior to Harvey’s landfall in August,” said Jones.
In the Western United States, EPIC’s team has been working overtime to deliver fuel to FBOs and firebases supporting aerial firefighting missions. This year’s fire-season has been extremely challenging, requiring EPIC to develop creative solutions and alternatives for fuel supply and delivery. “We’ve used multiple modes of delivery, from refineries, to terminals, to railcars to trucks over long distances to form a virtual 'bucket brigade' of aviation fuel to safely supply the aerial firefighting operations run out of our FBO’s facilities.
Aviation fuel and ground-support resources used in aerial firefighting operations have been in very high demand with multiple wildfires burning at the same time throughout the region. EPIC has shipped fuel to power DC-10 air tankers and UH-1H Super Huey helicopters as well as ground fuel for fire equipment used by local, state and federal agencies.
EPIC works closely with its partner FBOs, carriers and refiners in the region to assist their efforts in supporting firefighting operations in the region. The company has significantly ramped-up its operations to meet the demand for aviation fuel by FBOs in the regions serving as firebases. Locations in California such as Redding Jet Center at Redding Airport (KRDD), Gemini Flight Support at Castle Airport (KMER) in Atwater, Luxivair SBD at San Bernardino International Airport (KSBD), and locations in Montana including Edwards Jet Center (KBIL) in Billings, and Glacier Jet Center at Glacier Park International (KGPI) in Kalispell, have all seen significant action since the 2017 fire season began.
While it’s supply and dispatch teams are engaged in keeping FBOs fueled up, EPIC’s quality assurance team is available for onsite assessments of fuel farms and fueling equipment viability at airports damaged by the natural disasters.