6 September, 2017
Victoria will have its largest ever firefighting fleet available this summer with a super suite of 49 aircraft available over the summer season.
The fleet includes two Large Air Tankers and two orange Air-Cranes, and will also feature an additional water bombing helicopter, which means Victoria will have 49 aircraft compared to 48 last year.
The Large Air Tankers can carry up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or retardant and are one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of fire, while the two orange Air-Cranes are able to carry 7,500 litres of water.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the fleet was a mix of water bombing aircraft, fixed-wing and helicopters, with the remaining aircraft providing air supervision and intelligence gathering roles.
The majority of water-bombing aircraft will operate through pre-determined dispatch, which means they will respond to fires at the same time as firefighters on the ground.
“The Victorian firefighting aircraft fleet will be bigger this year. This is excellent news and combines well and builds on the success of pre-determined dispatch,” he said.
“The move last year to immediate response across Victoria has proven to be extremely successful in minimising the impacts of bush and grass fires on communities.
“Our fleet has proven to be crucial in stopping the spread of fire, by providing immediate response in the early stages and supports our firefighters on the ground.
“An additional helicopter at Bacchus Marsh will provide better protection in the western and northern outer metropolitan areas.”
Mr Lapsley said aircraft would come online progressively as fire risk increases.
Victorian conditions over the summer appear likely to increase the risk of an above normal fire season, with a potentially earlier start in some parts of the state.
The Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook, developed by the Bureau of Meteorology with fire and land managers, was released yesterday in Sydney.