MISSOULA — They were the first to deploy jet aircraft as large tankers to fight wildfires. But that decision a decade ago looks absolutely prophetic, as Neptune Aviation’s competitors followed the same path.

Yet the company continues to thrive, helping to tackle the growing wildfire threat.

It’s a number staggering to imagine. Last week, a Neptune Aviation tanker delivered the one-millionth gallon of retardant during this explosive 2020 fire season.

Aerial firefighting has been going through changes in the past few seasons and although demand remains high, the way of doing business is different, with the US Forest Service using more “call when needed” aircraft.

“So there’s two types of contracts for these airplanes. We have call when needed contract and exclusive use,” explained Neptune Aviation Senior Vice President Dan Snyder.

“Exclusive use contracts are contracts that we know have a start date and have an end date and its definitive time,” he added. “Call, when needed, is really when the need arises, we get called up.”

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