Super suite of aircraft ready for summer

EMERGENCY management responders will be well placed and resourced for what could be a long summer ahead.

Victoria’s summer aviation fleet was launched last Thursday, with new member ‘Marty’ added to the fleet.

‘Marty’, an orange Aircrane, will join existing Aircrane ‘Delilah’, and the two large air tankers ‘Hunter’ and ‘Hercules’.

Emergency management services are now equipped with a 50-strong fleet, which includes a mix of firebombing, air supervision and aeriel intelligence gathering aircraft.

Twenty seven are helicopters and 23 are fixed wing aircraft.

“Our aviation fleet is strategically placed across the state according to risk and we are able to move aircraft around quickly to respond to fires,” Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp said.

“Summer in Victoria means we will have hot, dry and windy conditions and there will be fires,” he continued.

“We can’t control where fires will happen, but we can control our preparedness,” Mr Crisp concluded.

Emergency responders in the Wimmera and Mallee regions are well equipped for the upcoming fire season, as firefighters have access to a dedicated fleet of aircraft.

Commander Lindsay Barry of Horsham, working out of the Region 13 headquarters, says our rural brigades have the “right resources and right processes” in place this summer.

“We have a fleet of aircraft serving the Wimmera and Mallee regions,” Commander Barry said.

“We have two ‘Six Wing Bombers’ stationed at the Nhill Airport, another two stationed at the base in Stawell, and the region has a Rotary Aircraft at it’s disposal as well,” he continued.

“Of course, in the event of a major bushfire emergency, the region has the accessibility of the whole Victorian fleet,” Commander Barry said.

“We have a number of aircraft ready to assist our big bombers as well, with small reconnaissance aircrafts that assist with mapping and navigating our big bomber aircraft in the air,” he said.

Bombers have been used in the Wimmera and Mallee areas in the past, as early as last year.

“All of our aircraft are on a pre-determined dispatch, meaning they will respond immediately to fires at the same time as the brigades, alongside the trucks,” Commander Barry said.

“There are a number of secondary bases in the region, which include Warracknabeal, Horsham and Edenhope,” he said.

“We are very lucky to have such a large number of these secondary bases, which act as bases that have the caches of water and pumps and the trained personnel to ready and refill bombers for use,” he said.

“These aircraft are useless at fighting fires if their grounded, so it’s important to the region that we have these bases at the ready, so these aircraft can fight fires in every corner of the region,” Commander Barry said.

Supplementing Victoria’s core fleet of 50 aircraft, the state can call on up to 100 extra aircraft, as part of the national aircraft arrangements.

Commander Barry and all of the regions firefighters recognise it’s going to be a long journey this summer, as forecasts predict a very hot and dry summer.

Rural brigades are being pro-active in their defense against the forthcoming summer, as brigades have their own burn plans in place to reduce vegetation and bush fire fuel.

“There are planned burns occurring across the region, and each brigade has their own burn plans which outline the areas of both public and private land that may act as fuel for fires,” he said.

“Brigades use and review these plans throughout the whole year, but to minimise risk we burn in cooler periods of weather,” Commander Barry concluded.

As the summer heat is about to begin, Emergency Management Victoria is urging everyone to be prepared in their households.