FIREFIGHTING services in WA have been given a major boost following the launch of a full aerial water bombing fleet, including the return of the giant Erickson Air Crane Georgia Peach.
The fleet includes 22 helicopters and fixed wing aircraft, which have a total water bombing capability of 48,600 litres.
Ten aircraft have been provided through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) which co-ordinates the sharing of aerial firefighting resources between states and territories during the fire season.
The Erickson Aircrane carries up to 7500 litres of water or foam, hover fill in 38 seconds and cruises at 212 kilometres per hour.
Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the fleet expected another busy season after it dropped 25.7 million litres of water and foam last summer – twice the volume dropped the previous season.
“This is testament to the hard work of hundreds of personnel,” he said.
Mr Francis launched the fleet at Jandakot Airport on December 21 with Federal Member for Hasluck Ken Wyatt and WA Environment Minister Albert Jacob.
The Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) have conducted prescribed burns over more than 130,000 hectares of land in south-west forests, national parks and reserves to prepare for the bushfire season.
The aerial fleet has significantly strengthened WA’s firefighting capabilities, but everyone is still urged to be bushfire ready.
For more information on how to prepare yourself and properties from bushfires visit www.areyouready.wa.gov.au
Each season the WA Government allocates at least $20 million for the aerial fleet plus operating costs.
The Federal Government has committed $2.9m for the 2015-16 aerial firefighting fleet
The fleet includes the Erickson Air Crane, six Bell 214B Helitacs, eight fixed wing water bomber aircraft, six Air Attack Supervisor aircraft and one aerial-intelligence helicopter.
The Australian Government invests $14.8 million each year in the NAFC arrangements to support States and Territories and ensure Australians are protected by the best aerial firefighting aircraft possible