Additional Aircraft To Strengthen Firefighting Response This Fire Season

• Four additional firefighting aircraft brings state’s airfleet to 46 this fire season
• Victorian Coalition Government delivers more aircraft than previous fire season
• Napthine Government building stronger and safer communities

The Napthine Government has announced more than $7.15 million in additional funding to bolster Victoria’s aerial firefighting fleet and increase the number of aircraft for the upcoming fire season.

Minister for Bushfire Response Kim Wells said this fire season, 46 specialist aircraft will help to support firefighters on-the-ground which is four extra aircraft than the previous fire season.

“The Napthine Government is absolutely committed to increasing community protection and strengthening Victoria’s emergency management response this fire season,” Mr Wells said.

“With early forecasts indicating the state will face another significant fire season it is absolutely crucial that our fire agencies are well-resourced with specialist firefighting equipment to ensure Victoria is fire ready.

“This aircraft will ensure there will be a stronger and quicker initial attack to fires this summer and mean local communities will be better protected.

“This additional funding will boost the state’s capacity to respond to, and suppress, bush and grass fires in high fire danger areas, including the Latrobe Valley.”

The additional funding has ensured:

• $6.56 million for two large fixed wing airtankers to be based at Avalon airport, with a carrying capacity of approximately 12,000 and 17,000 litres of foam or retardant;
• A fixed wing aircraft with an on-board air attack supervisor to support the large air tankers; and
• $588,000 for a firebombing helicopter which can carry approximately 1,600 litres of water, to be based in the Latrobe Valley.

“Targeted aviation resources based in the Latrobe Valley will ensure rapid response to incidents across the whole Gippsland region and increase community safety,” Mr Wells said.

“In addition, Victoria will be the first Australian state to use the two large air tankers, which are some of the biggest firefighting aircraft available, and were most recently used to support firefighters in California.

The aircraft fleet will include:

• 2 large fixed wing airtankers;
• 1 firebombing helicopter to be based in the Latrobe Valley;
• 2 Erickson Aircranes capable of dropping 7,500 litres of water;
• 2 large Sikorsky helicopters capable of dropping 3,500 litres of water or transporting up to 17 firefighters;
• 5 medium sized firebombing helicopters;
• 15 light helicopters;
• 12 single engine airtankers;
• 2 infrared line-scanning fixed wing aircraft;
• 4 fixed wing firespotting aircraft; and
• 1 fixed wing aircraft to support the large air tankers

The specialist aircranes will be available for use from December, with the remaining fleet to arrive later this month.
Mr Wells said the fleet of aircraft is just one part of the firefighting resources that will be deployed to protect the state this upcoming fire season.

“Our agencies are currently preparing for a challenging summer and the aircraft fleet is just one component of the state’s response, but all Victorians still need to ensure they have their own plan in place and are prepared for the risk of fires,” Mr Wells said.

“No matter where you live, all Victorians need to understand their fire risk and be ready to act if fire breaks out. The message is simple: leave and live.”

Mr Wells said Victoria’s fire agencies and supporting partners are committed to working together and with the community to ensure a safer Victoria this fire season.

“The Coalition Government’s significant investments in Victoria’s fire services and the broad suite of emergency management reforms that have been introduced over the past four years are helping to ensure Victoria is now better protected.”

Media contact: Jess Jackson 0437 422 048 [email protected]