Gippsland firefighting aircraft fleet stronger than ever

One of the Firebird helicopters that will be used in Gippsland for fire control this summer.

A record number of firefighting aircraft have touched down in Gippsland to help protect communities and the environment from bushfires this summer.

This season’s fleet has been bolstered by the addition of a Type 1 Helitak helicopter, which will help Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic), Country Fire Authority (CFA) and Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV) respond quickly to fires.

FFMVic Gippsland Project Leader for Emergency Management Peter Brick said having eleven dedicated aircraft ready to respond should be a comfort to all people in the region.

“These planes and helicopters give us a faster response time, especially in remote areas, which is crucial in getting on top of fires before they can spread,” Mr Brick said.

“It also gives us more flexibility in getting rappel crews onto the ground to control fires and helps with the protection of homes and other assets on private land.”

“This air fleet is an increasingly important tool in helping to protect private and public land, so adding to that capability this season will further improve our ability to contain fires while they are small.”

CFA Gippsland Regional Commander Mike Owen said the firefighting aircraft coordinate with ground operations in protecting people and property.

“With the fire season in Gippsland upon us again, CFA is relying on the rapid dispatch of firefighting aircraft to fires in support of our communities,” Mr Owen said.

“The Multi- Agency Pre-determined Dispatch (PDD) system dispatches aircraft at the same time as CFA Brigades are paged for any bush or scrub fire during days of elevated fire danger.

“This coordinated effort by ground and air resources is extremely efficient and quick, and can make an invaluable difference to the damage a fire could do. It is a system that can save properties and potentially lives.”

Aircraft are strategically placed across the state and can be moved quickly to respond to threats to life and property.