Australia — The State Government has boosted its aerial fire fightingcapability to protect community assets and environment values during the currentfire emergency period. Four fixed-wing water bombers and two helitacs have beenbrought in to increase the Governments aerial fire fighting fleet to 18aircraft. The additional fixed-wing aircraft mean there now will be four bombersstationed at Perth, three each at Bunbury and Manjimup and two in Albany.
The State Government has boosted its aerial fire fighting capability toprotect community assets and environment values during the current fireemergency period.
Four fixed-wing water bombers and two helitacs have been brought in to increasethe Governments aerial fire fighting fleet to 18 aircraft.
The additional fixed-wing aircraft mean there now will be four bombers stationedat Perth, three each at Bunbury and Manjimup and two in Albany.
The two helitacs will join the four currently based in Perth.
Environment Minister Tony McRae said the move was part of the CarpenterGovernments commitment to increase resources for fire authorities and landmanagement agencies to protect the community and environmental values.
Mr McRae said the additional aircraft would enable more water to be dumped morerapidly while fires were in the early stages of development and to protectassets.
They also provide greater flexibility and enable the Department ofEnvironment and Conservation and FESA to base the bombers in areas where thereis the greatest threat of fires occurring following summer thunderstorms andlightning, he said.
The additional water bombers include an Airtractor 802 able to drop 3,200 litreswithin seconds, two Airtractor 602s and one Dromader that carry around 2,500litres each.
The 802 and 602 aircraft are very quick through the air with speeds of up to 300km/h.
The water bombers save more than $10million worth of community and environmentalassets every year.
The two helitacs are Agusta A119s, commonly known as Koalas.
They have a capacity of 1,000 litres and a maximum cruising speed of 250 km/h.
Last summer the four Perth-based helitacs managed by FESA had saved propertyworth $12million and had protected assets worth a further $28million.
The Government has made major commitments to increasing resources for firecrews this summer, Mr McRae said.
We have pumped an extra $5.5million into fire-fighting equipment such as firetankers, high lift pumpers, communications equipment and heavy earthmovingmachinery.
But the reality is that the best investment all communities can make inprotecting themselves against bush fires, is to have an action plan and makesure their properties are well prepared for fire.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister John Kobelke said extremely dry conditionsover most of the South-West meant that the threat from bush fires this summerhad increased.
This is clearly evident from the current fire that at times has threatenedthe communities of Dwellingup, Pinjarra and Coolup and potentially Waroona andother recent fires in Julimar and Toodyay, Mr Kobelke said.
We also have had some significant fires in the past few days in the Perthmetropolitan area such as Sundays blaze at Forrestdale.
Because of these events and the continuing relatively hot weather today, Ihave declared a Bush Fire Emergency Period for the South-West and Goldfieldswhich means there is a total fire ban until the declaration is revoked.