Tasmania’s aerial firefighting capacity has been ramped up ahead of the summer bushfire season, with a fleet of 11 pre-positioned aircraft now ready to be deployed as part of the State government’s safety plan.
“This year we have increased our pre-positioned fleet by over 50 percent and the aircraft include a mix of fire-bombing, air supervision and aerial intelligence-gathering aircraft,” said the state Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, Mark Shelton.
He added that the fleet comprised seven helicopters and four fixed-wing aircraft.
Located in Hobart and Launceston
The craft will be located in Hobart and Launceston so that they can be moved quickly around Tasmania to respond to fires, or staged at strategic locations across the state on days of increased bushfire risk.
In addition, local aircraft are available to assist where required, taking the total firefighting aircraft available in Tasmania to 28, Shelton said.
“This will ensure a rapid response to bushfires that do start, keeping fires small until ground crews arrive,” he stated.
More firefighting money in budget
“Tasmania is well prepared for the bushfire season and we recognise the importance of having access to a sophisticated, flexible aerial firefighting capability to respond to bushfires, protect communities and to support firefighters on the ground.”
According to the minister, Tasmania is investing $17.6-million in a package of mitigation initiatives in the 2020-21 State Budget.
“We are delivering a clear plan for bushfire prevention because we know that when landowners, industry, farmers and the wider community are supported in this way, all Tasmanians will be safer,” Shelton said in a statement.
Victoria also adds to aerial capacity
In October, the Victorian Government announced $29-million in funding to make available a record 51 aircraft ahead of the bushfire season.
This comprises includes a mix of water-bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft. There are also a number of specialist night vision-enabled aircraft, which can conduct firebombing and intelligence operations after dark
In the fleet are two Large Air Tankers, which can carry up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or retardant, as well as two 7,500-litre Aircrane firefighting helicopters.