Victoria’s Firefighting Air Fleet Ready For Fire Season

A record fleet of 50 aircraft will hit the skies to help fight fires and keep communities safe this summer season.

The Andrews Labor Government today announced the 2019–20 aircraft fleet, which includes a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft.

The fleet includes two large air tankers, which can carry up to 15,000 litres of water, foam or retardant, and two 7500 litre aircranes, which provide essential support to other aircraft across the state.

It also includes a number of specialist night-time aircraft, which can conduct firebombing and intelligence operations after dark, if conditions are suitable.

Victoria’s emergency service agencies are preparing for an elevated fire season for East and West Gippsland, with the rest of the state expected to experience similar conditions as last fire season.

Aircraft will provide immediate fire response and pre-determined dispatch across the state, allowing water bombing aircraft to respond to fires at the same time as fire trucks.

The Victorian fleet has been critical in stopping the spread of fire over recent years, providing immediate response in the early stage of fires and supporting firefighters on the ground, including across eastern Victoria earlier this year.

Firefighting aircraft were dispatched 2466 times during 2018–19, an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.

Victoria will also be supported by a surge capacity of up to 100 aircraft, which can be called to supplement the core fleet when needed.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Police and Emergency Services Lisa Neville

“Victoria’s aerial firefighting fleet will play a critical role this summer season, helping to save lives and property right across the state.”

“A 50-strong air fleet and our dedicated firefighters will ensure Victoria has the strongest possible fire response – both in the air and on the ground as we head into fire season.”

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

“Our firefighters do a fantastic job on the ground and aircraft will help support that effort.”

Quote attributable to Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp

“These 50 aircraft will be strategically positioned across the state and work with our firefighters to help keep communities safe.”