Record Firefighting Fleet Keeping Victorians Safe

Victoria’s largest ever aerial-firefighting fleet will take to the skies this summer as the state prepares for a long, hot summer.

Acting Premier and Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino and the Minister for Environment, Energy and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio today officially launched the record fleet of 49 aircraft at Avalon Airport.

The fleet includes fixed-wing and water-bombing aircraft, as well as aircraft used specifically for air supervision and aerial intelligence.

The water-bombing aircraft include Large Air Tankers that can carry up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or retardant and are one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of fire, and two orange Air-Cranes that are able to carry 7500 litres of water.

The firefighting aircraft fleet is strategically positioned across the state and will come online progressively, as the fire season risk increases. The majority of water-bombing aircraft will operate through pre-determined dispatch, which means they will respond to fires at the same time as firefighters on the ground.

Victoria is the only state in Australia to operate water-bombing aircraft as immediate response or pre-determined dispatch, following a key recommendation of the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

In addition, Victoria also has a surge-capacity fleet that can supplement the core 49 aircraft, with up to 100 additional aircraft on call if required.

Today’s event also incorporated the official launch of the state’s summer fire campaign.

Forecasts show there is potential for an above-average fire season this summer, with people urged to take the time now to increase their understanding of local fire risks, prepare their properties and plan how to stay safe.

Already this year there have been devastating fires in New South Wales, while Victoria has had its own share of significant fire activity, especially in the Gippsland region.

Victorians can stay up-to-date with emergency warnings throughout the summer season by tuning into local radio and Sky News broadcasts, phoning the VicEmergency hotline on 1800 226 226, visiting emergency.vic.gov.au, and downloading the VicEmergency App.

Quotes attributable to Acting Premier James Merlino

“Victoria’s largest-ever firefighting fleet will be in operation this summer, with weather forecasts showing we are set for an above-average summer fire season.”

“These aircraft will play a key role in supporting our firefighters on the ground, but people also need to assess the fire risk in their area, and talk to friends and family about what they’re going to do to be safe.”

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

“Our immediate focus is making sure Victorians stay safe this bushfire season. Talk to your family about your plans and make sure you know when to leave.”