Fighting fire from the sky this bushfire season

TASMANIA’S firefighting aviation fleet has been officially been launched, with 12 specialised aircraft on hand to help fight fires from the sky this bushfire season. Each year, with support from the Australian Government, the National Aerial Firefighting Centre co-ordinates the leasing of a national fleet of firefighting aircraft to all states and territories.

This year Tasmania has the same fleet that was on hand last bushfire season. It includes a mix of firebombing and air supervision and aerial intelligence gathering aircraft. Eight are helicopters and four are fixed-wing planes. Some have already seen action locally, including at the Bonnet Bay bushfire in the South West National Park on the shores of Lake Pedder. That fire remains at 110 hectares and smoke may be visible for some time. There is no threat to the public and the fire is being patrolled at regular intervals by Parks and Wildlife crews.

Tasmania’s aerial firefighting fleet for this summer was officially launched late last week and consists of:

  • 2 x Air Tractor AT-802F
  • 2 x Fireboss (AT-802F equipped with amphibious floats)
  • 4 x Bell 214B helicopters
  • 2 x Twin Squirrel AS355-F1 helicopters
  • 1 x FB 700 AS350-B2 Special Intelligence Gathering helicopter
  • 1x “HeliTreck” BK117

Tasmania Fire Service chief officer Dermot Barry said aerial firefighting is a key part of the state’s bushfire response capability. “We’ve had success with this in various incidents, hitting the fires hard and fast to keep them small until ground crews arrive. This will continue to be our strategy going forward,” he said.

“We also have access to up to 20 locally-owned planes and helicopters if required, meaning there are up to 32 firefighting aircraft available in the state this summer. We’re confident in our capacity and capability to respond to bushfires this season, but we need members of the community to play their part too,” he said.

“Having these resources doesn’t reduce the responsibilities we all have as individuals, especially when visiting or living in bushfire prone areas. “Property owners need to clean up around their properties and make sure they have a well thought out bushfire survival plan.”

For more information about planning for bushfires, visit www.fire.tas.gov.au

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