Compass Minerals Announces no 2024 Fortress Retardant Contract with USFS

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas—Compass Minerals, a provider of essential minerals, today announced that the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) has informed the company that it will not enter into a contract for the use of magnesium chloride-based aerial fire retardants for the 2024 fire season.

During scheduled winter airtanker inspections as part of the USFS’ Integrated Operational Field Evaluation (I-OFE), it was discovered that certain airtankers that had flown Fortress North America’s (Fortress’) proprietary, magnesium chloride-based aerial fire retardants revealed significant signs of corrosion in areas where a build-up of the retardant had occurred. The findings from this more extensive inspection raised aircraft safety concerns, prompting the USFS’ decision to inform Compass Minerals on March 22, 2024, that it would be “unable to define the scope and associated terms and conditions of a new contract” with the company until the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) conducted a coordinated, independent assessment of the findings.

“While we are disappointed with the findings of the initial inspection, we share the USFS’ prioritization of safety above all other factors,” said Edward C. Dowling Jr., president and CEO. “As we work collaboratively with the USFS, NTSB, and NIST on the more detailed assessment to be conducted, we have to assume, based on this new information, that Fortress’ proprietary, magnesium chloride-based aerial fire-retardant formulation will not be utilized for the foreseeable future in the fight against wildfires.”

As previously announced, in December 2022, Fortress became the first new company in over two decades to have long-term aerial fire retardants added to the USFS’ Qualified Product List (QPL). Fortress’ FR-100 Powder and FR-200 Liquid Concentrate products met and exceeded the USFS’ rigorous testing criteria in such categories as environmental effects and toxicity to aquatic and mammalian species, corrosion on a variety of aircraft metals, burn retardation efficacy, and the completion of a live wildfire operational field evaluation. In May 2023, Fortress entered into a contract with the USFS to provide up to five mobile-deployed fire-retardant air tanker bases during the 2023 wildfire season. The company was in the process of negotiating a USFS contract for the 2024 wildfire season when the new corrosion concerns were identified.

The company is currently working to achieve full qualification of proprietary, non-magnesium chloride-based aerial fire-retardant products.

About Compass Minerals

Compass Minerals (NYSE: CMP) is a leading global provider of essential minerals focused on safely delivering where and when it matters to help solve nature’s challenges for customers and communities. The company’s salt products help keep roadways safe during winter weather and are used in numerous other consumer, industrial, chemical and agricultural applications. Its plant nutrition products help improve the quality and yield of crops, while supporting sustainable agriculture. Additionally, it is working to develop a next-generation, long-term fire-retardant business that offers more innovative and environmentally friendly products in the fight against wildfires. Compass Minerals operates 12 production and packaging facilities with nearly 2,000 employees throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.K. Visit for more information about the company and its products.

AerialFire Staff
AerialFire Staff
AerialFire Magazine strives to provide you with breaking aerial firefighting industry news and information.

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