Valuable experience gained in night fire deployment

11 February 2019

Victoria’s two night firebombing helicopters deployed to nine fires across the state since the beginning of the trial this summer. 

For the first time night operations were used as an extension of day operations in Gippsland, which meant aircraft were able to assist ground crews on the fire for longer. 

This first deployment that involved night flying occurred on 4 January and saw Victoria’s two night firebombing helicopters deployed to the Rosedale fire, where crews, both in the air and on the ground, gained some very valuable experience. 

Other deployments included the Little River, Little Mt Buller fire, Timbarra, Champions Spur and Dungeon Gully, Thomson, Blackwood and Grantville fires.

Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said the experience gained for both day and night crews during the deployments was extremely valuable. 

“Incident controllers and incident management teams have been willing to utilise the capability which mean our teams are gaining valuable experience and information in relation to firefighting at night,” he said.

“The training, process and protocols were established before the deployments have seen the night firebombing capability successfully integrate into a number of incidents across the state, in different terrain and fuel types.

“It’s important that we continue to learn through experience and how we can further utilise this capability over the summer.”

Project manager Wayne Rigg said it had been great to see such teamwork among day and night crews, both in the air and on the ground throughout the trial so far. 

“Our night fire suppression operations teams and contractors, both Kestrel and Coulson, are working extremely well together and very much focused on the safe delivery of a night firebombing capability to Victoria.”

Night fire operations supports the great work ground crews already do during the day and only occurs on fires where it can add value to operations, or in circumstances where the experience can help build or improve the night firebombing capability.