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New Hampshire Congressional Delegation Asks U.S. Air Force, National Guard to Provide Pease Air National Guard Base with New Fire and Rescue Vehicles

(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) sent a letter, along with U.S. Senator Maggie Hassan (D-NH) and U.S. Representatives Annie Kuster (NH-02) and Chris Pappas (NH-01) to Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall and Chief of the National Guard Bureau General Daniel Hokanson regarding the recent temporary halt of operations at Pease Air National Guard Base (ANGB) and Pease International Airport. The halt in operations was due to mechanical breakdowns of the NH Air National Guard’s Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting trucks required by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The letter outlines the importance of ensuring Pease has reliable firefighting assets so it can continue to serve and protect the community and ensure military readiness is not impeded. The letter asks for an expedited delivery of a truck currently scheduled to arrive in February 2025 along with the expedited replacement, or recapitalization, of obsolete truck models.

The lawmakers wrote, in part, “When Pease is forced to rely on an aging fleet of fire trucks, the safety of airport employees and the [New Hampshire Air National Guard’s] 157th Air Refueling Wing (ARW) is put at risk; and the nation loses strategically vital resources at a time in which we are confronted with numerous global threats.”

In early October, Portsmouth International Airport and Pease ANGB were recently forced to halt operations after the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting (ARFF) trucks required to meet minimal service for both FAA and military services became unavailable due to mechanical breakdowns. Several of the 157th ARW trucks have been declared unserviceable for well over two years, forcing Pease to borrow equally dilapidated and aging ARFF trucks, some of which also became unexpectedly unserviceable. Subsequently, 157th ARW was forced to locate, secure, and locally pay for a civilian rental truck to resume safe operations at the airport.

The lawmakers continued, “Given the systemic problems of recapitalizing fire trucks at Pease, we respectfully request that you accelerate the delivery of the fire truck scheduled to arrive in February 2025, expedite recapitalization of the obsolete P-34 model truck with a new P-19 truck, and use all available authorities to ensure that Pease has a sufficient number of fire trucks at all times to sustain safe and secure operations.”

The letter can be read in full here.

As a senior member of the U.S. Senate Armed Services and Appropriations Committees, Senator Shaheen has long supported Pease ANGB and the 157th ARW. In August, Shaheen hosted Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall at Pease ANGB and announced the signing of a new Department of Defense (DOD) policy to increase the transparency of PFAS clean-up efforts at the former Pease Air Force Base as well as other sites around the country. In the fiscal year 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), Shaheen included $2.9 billion for the procurement of 15 KC-46A Pegasus refueling tankers, like the ones flown at Pease ANGB. Earlier this year, the New Hampshire delegation announced $7 million for Portsmouth International Airport at Pease to support a terminal arrivals area expansion project. The federal funds were made available through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) – the bipartisan infrastructure law – that was signed into law in 2021. In the Senate-passed FY24 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs appropriations bill, Shaheen secured $4 million to replace outdated fuel service equipment at Pease ANGB.

Weeks before the shutdown at Pease due to the lack of emergency vehicles, Congressman Pappas raised concerns about this issue in a letter to the National Guard Bureau. In that letter, Pappas outlined concerns shared with him by members of the 157 FES and urged officials to address the funding, staffing, and equipment shortages hampering the mission of the 157th Air Refueling Wing Fire and Emergency Services at Pease Air National Guard Base.