More Firefighting Aircraft To Keep Victorians Safe

Two of the world’s biggest firefighting aircraft will be back in Victoria this summer to support our fire fighters and keep communities safe from bushfires.

Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino and Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio today announced $11.1 million to secure two fixed wing large air tankers, an extra Helitak chopper and a support plane for the coming bushfire season.

The extra firefighting aircraft will bolster Victoria’s aviation fleet, which was critical in stopping the spread of devastating bushfires at Wye River, Scotsburn and Barnawartha last summer.

The large air tankers dropped 72 loads – almost 850,000 litres of fire retardant – in just over a month between December 2015 and January 2016, providing crucial support at some of the state’s biggest fires.

The tankers are the most effective way to drop fire retardant to stop the spread of bushfires, with each tanker carrying more than 12,000 litres of water, retardant or foam.

A Helitak is more agile and can pick up water from lakes, reservoirs and the ocean, removing the need for it to fly long distances back to airports to reload.

The aircraft announced today are in addition to Victoria’s 43-strong firefighting aviation fleet of fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and air cranes that will be protecting communities this bushfire season.

Firefighting aircraft are suited to rapid attack in the early stages of a grass or bushfire and provide support to our on-ground firefighters, along with an extensive fleet of trucks and other specialist appliances.

Victoria’s aircraft, including the large air tankers, can also be called on to help fight significant fires interstate as part of a national agreement between the states.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino

“We need to ensure we have the best equipment and resources to support our hardworking firefighters and protect our community.”

“This extra funding will see our 43-strong firefighting aviation fleet bolstered by four extra aircraft – including two of the biggest firefighting aircraft in the world.”

Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio

“Victoria’s aircraft fleet plays a crucial role in responding to fires and supporting firefighters on the ground during summer.”

“The Andrews Labor Government is providing our firefighters with world-class equipment to ensure they can keep Victorians safe.”

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