11 September 2018
More than 60 multi-agency personnel attended a workshop last week to discuss how Victoria's night fire suppression operations would be implemented ahead of the 2018-19 summer.
Personnel from Victoria, SA, NSW, TAS, and QLD had an opportunity to share their ideas and perspectives, along with international participants from New Zealand and USA.
Senior Pilot Eric Pacheco from LA County Air Operations was a special guest at the workshop sharing his knowledge and experience. LA County Air Operations are considered leaders in air operations and specifically Night Vision Goggles operations.
The ability to draw on Eric’s experience was extremely valuable and enabled workshop participants to test the planned role out of the night fire suppression program.
It was a successful workshop with participants contributing to the development of the program which is planned to be implemented for the 2018-19 summer season.
After the success of an Australian-first trial last summer which simulated fire and proved it could be done safely, this summer's focus is working with the fire agencies and the providers to develop and test safety procedures and training in order to allow night time aerial firefighting.
The two outstanding themes from the workshop included safety and communication of the phase two aims. While the two night fire suppression approved aircraft and crews will have the potential to respond to any area across the State, this will only be done in the right conditions, in the right circumstances and on the right fires.
Safety considerations remain the key to the second phase of the night fire suppression trial.
Depending on where the fire is, the night flying helicopters must have been to the area during the day in order to operate during the night to identify hazards, water supply and where the fire might potentially spread to.
The workshop provided the opportunity for interested regional and incident controllers, pilots, ground crews and interstate representatives to help shape the future of night fire suppression.