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Sep 25
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FIREFIGHTING AIR FLEET INCREASES

 by Commissioner Craig Lapsley, Emergency Management Victoria

 

AS WE HAVE SEEN FROM the forecast conditions in the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook released in early September, Victoria faces an increased risk of an above normal fire season, with a potentially earlier start in some parts of the state. While fire risk seems a long way away when we have communities dealing with storms, hail and in some cases significant snowfall, this is no doubt a good time to begin thinking about what we need to do in the months ahead.

The outlook is an early indication of what Victoria could expect in the summer season, but there is a lot that can change before we start to get a clearer picture of what our warmer months will bring. (Please see page 5 of this edition for further details on the Southern Australia Seasonal Bushfire Outlook).   The severity of the fire season will depend on a number of factors, including the amount, location and timing of rain in the months leading up to summer. Recent rainfall across the north and north-east of the state will slow our planned burn work, but if we see more spring rains in those areas it could also dampen the fire risk for longer.

But the early forecast shows there is underlying dryness in some areas of the state, particularly across central parts of Victoria and across the east.

 The Victorian firefighting aircraft fleet will be bigger this year. This is excellent news and combines well with the good work done on pre-determined dispatch in previous years.

A total of 49 aircraft have been secured for Victoria for the summer season, each strategically positioned across the state.

The State Government has increased the funding allowing an additional water bombing aircraft to join the fleet, with the additional helicopter (Helitak) will be based at Bacchus Marsh as first response in the outer metropolitan area. This is a first and adds to the existing fleet of helicopters and fixed wing water bombers.

The fleet will again include two Large Air Tankers (LATs) and two orange Air-Cranes which are available to respond across Victoria.

Summer season preparations across emergency management agencies are well underway. Pre-season briefings for emergency management personnel will begin to rollout across Victoria so our people understand the seasonal outlook, know the risks, are prepared to respond to emergencies, working with our communities.

It’s important that the community also begins their fire prevention and preparedness works. Plan early and act early is a key message, use spring to get ready and prepare your properties, yourself and your family.

Forest Fire Management Victoria and CFA have brought forward preparedness activities, including the spring planned burning program.

We are in this together - government, agencies, communities and business - and go into the summer season knowing we work best when we work collaboratively as a strong, capable sector with a focus on the best outcomes for the communities we serve.

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