Air­craft and crews ready for bush­fire sea­son

Alpine Observer - - News -

TEN crit­i­cal fire­fight­ing air­craft have ar­rived at air­bases across the re­gion ready to re­spond to fires in prepa­ra­tion for the peak bush­fire sea­son.

The air­craft, which in­cludes two fire­fight­ing he­li­copters based at Ovens, will be used by For­est Fire Man­age­ment Vic­to­ria (FFMVic) and the CFA to re­spond to bush­fires this sum­mer in the re­gion and across the state if re­quired.

“Air­craft are an es­sen­tial tool in sup­port­ing ground crews to con­tain fires be­fore they spread and im­pact com­mu­ni­ties,” FFMVic, as­sis­tant chief fire of­fi­cer, Aaron Kennedy said.

“As soon as a fire is re­ported, an air­craft will be de­ployed at the same time as the fire trucks, giv­ing fire­fight­ers a greater chance of lim­it­ing the size and spread in the early stages.

“Im­me­di­ate re­sponse is one of the most ef­fec­tive ways to help stop the spread of fires and helps keep com­mu­ni­ties safe this bush­fire sea­son.”

There are 49 air­craft in the state’s base fleet, con­sist­ing of fixed wing planes, he­li­copters, air tankers and large air cranes that will be ready to re­spond to fires.

For the first time Vic­to­ria will have two night vi­sion en­abled air­craft join­ing the fleet, and one of them will be based at Man­ga­lore, near Avenel.

“Night fire­bomb­ing will be used as an ex­ten­sion of day op­er­a­tions, mean­ing air­craft will be able to as­sist ground crews on fires for longer when con­di­tions are suit­able,” Mr Kennedy said.

“The state’s air­craft fleet com­pli­ments on ground fire­fight­ers and heavy ma­chin­ery as part of the number one pri­or­ity to pro­tect lives and prop­erty.

“This sum­mer we are fac­ing an in­creased risk of bush­fires due to the un­der­ly­ing dry­ness on both pub­lic and pri­vate land. How­ever, our re­gion is well re­sourced and pre­pared to re­spond to bush­fires.”

Air­craft will be based this sum­mer at Ovens, Benalla, Mansfield, Shep­par­ton, Man­ga­lore and Al­bury.

The air­craft will also have the ca­pac­ity to move to other lo­ca­tions de­pend­ing on weather and bush­fire risk.

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