Often overlooked fact; the world of aerial firefighting can be quite competitive. From bidding for contracts to crew performance, everyone is trying to stay ahead of the game. Yet despite the “competitive nature” of this field of work an underlying truth will always remain the same, anyone who fights fires works to serve and protect. Nonetheless it is imperative to have strong leadership to perpetuate the growth of any company, and 10 Tanker is no exception. When beginning to work in this industry the company needed someone who understood fire operations, and with 38 years of firefighting experience, John Gould was the perfect candidate.
For most of his career he worked in Alaska or Boise, and as an Alaska smokejumper for nearly 20 years he got the opportunity to work all over the country. John got to see firsthand as the world of fire aviation developed, which lead him into another part of his career, Aerial Supervision. As an Air Tactical Group Supervisor, he was responsible for managing all incident airspace, including helicopters, single engine air tankers, and large air tankers. Air Tactical Group Supervisors aren’t only in charge of aerial assets, they're also required to have several years of experience working on the ground in order to develop the best tactics to coordinate aircraft operations.
By the time 10 Tanker founders met John, he was a seasoned veteran of ground and aerial operations. John also had years of program management experience, working as Director of Aviation for the Bureau of Land Management, Safety Director for the Bureau of Indian Affairs at NIFC, and Manager of Alaska Fire Service.
“I think I first met the 10 Tanker team when I was the manager for Alaska fire service, doing a stint back in Washington D.C. They came into my office, asked a couple of questions about aerial firefighting. They seemed to like me and kept in touch. Every now and then I’d get a call from them asking more questions. When I was approaching the end of my career, they inquired whether I’d like to come work for them, and so I did. I started at 10 Tanker as their business development manager working from my house in Boise.”
During this time 10 Tanker was trying to find a way to gain fire community acceptance of an air tanker as large as a DC-10. As a former firefighter, and aerial supervisor, John served as a perfect advocate for 10 Tanker. Meeting and presenting to fire teams, officers, & program managers, John’s work was not a simple task. Many believed that the DC-10 just didn’t fit the mold and couldn't do the job.
As it turns out the opposite is true. John knew our Tankers were not only financially and operationally the best choice, but that our DC-10's could get more work done on a single drop than any other craft while still being able to navigate in steep terrain. Today, we think most firefighters are happy to see us show up over their fire, so maybe some of that work paid off.
As for our company president, we are proud to serve under his wise leadership.