US regulators are opposing lawsuits attempting to prevent use of fire retardants to fight wildfires. The lawsuits, brought by an NGO of Forest Service employees (FESSS), suggests that a permit would be needed to use fire retardants in wildfire fighting water. It is being opposed by the town of Paradise, California and the California forestry trade association (Calforests). The US Forest Service says that it is now working to obtain permits, but that this will take two or more years. The Forest Service is cited as considering “retardant a critical wildfire-suppression tool … made up of … ammonium phosphate, a salt found in fertilizer.” In the legal hearing, the Mayor of Paradise, which saw the deadly 2018 Camp Fire, said “the lawsuit is callous for homeowners and citizens who have experienced a wildfire. They are saying that people’s lives are not that important”. Calforests CEO said “retardants have played an integral role in stopping some of the most devastating wildfires in recent history – saving lives, businesses, and property. If this important tool is taken away at the federal level, the real-life consequences will be catastrophic”.
“”Catastrophic”: Aerial fire retardant lawsuit could change how California fights wildfires”, CBS News 24th April 2023