Hired help at hand as fire sea­son be­gins

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Ali­son Bald­ing

THE state’s fire­fight­ing ar­se­nal was put through its paces head­ing into the bush­fire sea­son.

The DC-10 Very Large Air­tanker, nick­named Belle, holds al­most 44,000 litres of wa­ter, which it can drop at the speed of 280km/h.

It, along with the Lock­heed L100-30 Air­tanker, nick­named Thor, has been con­tracted by the NSW Gov­ern­ment from the US for the 2015-16 bush­fire sea­son, which be­gan on Thurs­day.

The im­pres­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties of the big guns have been tested, along with those of the Erick­son Air Crane, nick­named Gypsy Lady, which is ca­pa­ble of drop­ping a more mod­est 15,000 litres of wa­ter.

NSW Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice com­mis­sioner Shane Fitzsim­mons wel­comed the new tools.

“This sea­son is shap­ing up to be a very dif­fi­cult sea­son, and that’s largely at­trib­uted to the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy con­firm­ing we have a strong El Nino that’s formed,” Mr Fitzsim­mons said.

He said the forecast for the next three months for most of NSW was for above-av­er­age tem­per­a­tures and be­low-av­er­age rain­falls dom­i­nat­ing right along the coast, along the ranges and west of the ranges.

De­spite the show of force, Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter David El­liot warned res­i­dents not to get com­pla­cent.

“These two new avi­a­tion as­sets are go­ing to pro­vide re­as­sur­ance to the com­mu­ni­ties across this state that they will have as safe a sum­mer as pos­si­ble,” Mr El­liot said.

But he said the hard work the many RFS vol­un­teers did dur­ing bush­fire sea­son was in­valu­able and ex­tremely ap­pre­ci­ated each year.

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