Rappel firefighters have been deployed 16 times so far this summer, supporting firefighting efforts in remote parts of Victoria.
There are currently four Forest Fire Management Victoria rappel crews each comprising eight firefighters, two crews are based at Heyfield in Gippsland and another two at Ovens in the state’s north-east.
Rappellers are small groups of highly trained firefighting specialists who descend by ropes from a helicopter, they are often first on the ground attacking fires in remote forest areas of Victoria.
Victoria’s rappel crews have been deployed over the past six weeks to fight remote lightning-sparked fires in Gippsland including the Licola - Cobb Spur Track fire, six kilometres south-west of Licola in early January.
In addition to aggressive initial attack on fires, rappel crew members may also prepare helicopter landing sites in remote areas so that additional ground crews can be flown in when there is no other access available.
When they are not fighting fires the rappel crews are also required to maintain their rappelling skills and undertake regular training to ensure they are always ready to be deployed.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio
“Our rappel firefighters help us respond quickly to fires in remote areas before they have the chance to spread and threaten our communities and environment.”
“Our firefighters are fit, work well together in a tough environment and keep their skills up to date to ensure they are ready to go out to a fire as soon as it is reported.”
Reviewed 19 August 2020