The State Government has announced $13.42 million to fund Victoria’s largest ever firefighting aircraft fleet for the upcoming fire season, Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino revealed today.
Along with two air tankers and two Erickson sky crane (Sikorsky S-64) helicopters, an additional water bombing helicopter will also provide first response in western and northern outer metropolitan areas.
“We’re delivering Victoria’s largest ever firefighting fleet to keep Victorians safe this fire season,” Merlino said.
“Aircraft play a critical role supporting our firefighters on the ground and communities across Victoria will now be protected by the biggest and best firefighting aircraft fleet available.”
Forty nine aircraft will be strategically position across the state, becoming progressively available as the summer fire risk increases.
Last year fire services moved from a back-up to first response model, ensuring that firefighting aircraft are dispatched at the same time as ground resources such as fire trucks and ground crews.
Emergency Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said “Our aircraft fleet has proven to be crucial in stopping the spread of fire, by providing immediate response in the early stages.”
“An additional helicopter based at Bacchus Marsh will provide better protection in the western and northern outer metropolitan area,” he said.
Air tankers carry up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or fire retardant whilst the air cranes carry up to 7,500 litres of water.
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