The largest aerial firefighting fleet assembled by QFES in Queensland will help give firefighters the “upper hand” this bushfire season, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford said today (Tuesday).
Mr Crawford said eight waterbombing planes and helicopters – a more than two-fold increase on the previous fleet – would be based in Queensland under an 84-day contract.
“Ensuring the safety of Queenslanders is paramount, and the Palaszczuk Government is committed to ensuring Queensland Fire and Emergency Services staff and volunteers have the resources they need to continue their high standard of service to communities,” Mr Crawford said.
“The bushfire season officially began on August 1, and QFES has already responded to more than 1400 bushfires - highlighting the importance of planning to ensure there is an appropriate level of response available.
“These aircraft will help give crews the upper hand during an-already busy bushfire season.”
Mr Crawford said the aircraft, contracted from the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC), would be based at aerodromes in Toowoomba and Bundaberg and could be deployed to other centres.
“Positioning the fleet at these locations will ensure an aerial observation and waterbombing service is available to communities and personnel across the State,” he said.
QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the State Air Operations Unit would be supported by about 300 air and ground crew from across the Fire and Rescue Service, Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service.
“These staff and volunteers will provide crucial assistance in areas such as ground base support, air base management, air attack supervision and airborne incident intelligence, including reconnaissance work, mapping and photography,” Ms Carroll said.
“Throughout Queensland’s bushfire season, the aircraft may be called on to protect people and property or used to map fires burning in difficult terrain that firefighters may otherwise be unable to access and monitor.
“QFES can also call on the fleet to supress fires before ground crews arrive on scene, and ensure our personnel receive critical support when and where it is most needed through actions including water bombing.”
The aerial fleet contract is due to finish in December 2018, subject to a review of bushfire conditions and projected weather forecast.
Here is a link to training footage: https://psbamediacontent.wistia.com/medias/rv8cs73eyp
Minister for Fire and Emergency Services
The Honourable Craig Crawford