A Bigger And Better Firefighting Fleet For Victoria

Victoria’s biggest ever aerial firefighting fleet will take to the skies this summer, thanks to a $29.9 million investment from the Andrews Labor Government.

Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino announced the new fleet today, which includes upgrades to the existing aircraft models, expanded waterbombing ability and greatly increased water capacity compared to previous years. The aerial fleet will also feature:

  • Two Air Tankers (15,000 litre capacity each) and two Air Cranes (7,500 litre capacity each) forming part of the suite of 49 aircraft deployed during disasters. These are essential to supporting other aircraft strategically positioned across the state
  • Two aircraft – one based in the Wimmera and the other at Ballarat – being upgraded for the 2018-19 summer season with a larger capacity to better protect the west and north west of the state.

The fleet is a mix of firebombing helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, with the remaining aircraft providing air supervision and intelligence-gathering roles.

Two aviation firebombing providers based in Victoria have also gained approval to conduct night-time firebombing operations this summer season when appropriate, after successfully completing an Australian-first trial this year.

Victoria will continue to operate firefighting aircraft as immediate response or pre-determined dispatch in locations across the state.  Immediate response using aircraft in early stages of a fire is one of the most effective ways to help stop the spread of fire and help to keep communities safe.

Emergency management agencies are preparing ahead of the summer season, which is forecast to be warmer and drier than average, with the fire season likely to start earlier and be more active than usual.

Already this year there have been damaging fires in New South Wales, and Victoria has had its share of significant fire activity, particularly in East Gippsland. Victoria’s new aircraft fleet will start periodically in line with the fire risk.

The Andrews Labor Government has invested more than $100 million in our firefighting aircraft fleet since coming to office, minimising the impacts of bush and grass fires on communities.

Quotes attributable to Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino

“The seasonal outlook suggests an unpredictability about the intensity of bushfires this summer season, so additional resources are vital to keep communities safe and support our hard-working firefighters on the ground.”

“This record investment means a greater capacity in our firefighting operations around the state this summer.”

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

“We know the devastating impact of bushfires in Victoria, so we’ll keep investing in these crucial aircraft to keep our state safe.”