Aircranes Arrive Today To Fight Fires For Regional Victoria

Aircranes Arrive Today To Fight Fires For Regional Victoria

Victoria Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan

Victoria Minister for Regional & Rural Development Peter Ryan

New Firefighting Aircraft Arrives In Ballarat

Victor P Taffa

Victoria’s Firefighting Efforts this bushfire season will be strengthened by the addition of a third Erickson Aircrane which arrives in Ballarat today to fight fires from the air.

Minister for Bushfire Response and Leader of The Nationals Peter Ryan said ‘Elsie’, which will be Ballarat-based, joins Essendon-based ‘Elvis’ and West Gippsland-based ‘Marty’ in providing an unprecedented level of aerial firefighting coverage across Victoria.

“This is the first time aircraft of this type have been based in Regional Victoria for the whole fire season, which means ground crews and communities under threat get faster Aircraft response and better support.” Mr. Ryan said.

Mr. Ryan said ‘Elsie’ would be instrumental in fire control and community protection.

“High rainfall this year will result in significant grass growth and possible large grassfires during the summer months.”

“Erickson Aircranes are powerful fire-fighting aircraft, capable of carrying up to 9,000 litres of water or foam, and reach a cruising speed of 200 km/h. Their tanks can be filled from a farm dam, reservoir or the ocean in under a minute and water can then be dropped very accurately to help protect houses and other assets during a fire.” Mr. Ryan said.

“By having these aircraft pre-positioned in strategic locations, our Fire Agencies will have more flexibility and a headstart to get them to where they are needed.”

Mr. Ryan said ‘Elsie’ would be close to high-risk communities located in areas such as the Wombat Forest and the Pyrenees Ranges and could be strategically deployed to other areas including the Otways and the Wimmera grasslands. The Aircrane would also work with the Sikorsky S61 Helicopter based in Colac.

“Victoria’s Aerial Firefighting arsenal will be increased to up to 50 Aircraft this season, with about another 150 Aircraft for Firefighting and support operations available if required.” Mr. Ryan said.

“This varied and multi-purpose fleet will be supported by additional aircraft, including two new faster and more flexible large firefighting planes that will be trialled this season.” Mr. Ryan said.

Victoria’s specialist State Aircraft Unit sources aircraft from Victoria, interstate and internationally, often with assistance from the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC).

NAFC is also responsible for the distribution of funding from the Commonwealth Government for larger aircraft. The provision of these aircraft is supported by funding from the Australian Government. A diverse range of aircraft are used in Victoria for different roles, including fire detection, reconnaissance, air attack supervision, rappelling operations, infra-red scanning, crew transport and firefighting using water, foam and retardant.