Australia — A privately-funded aerial fire spotter equipped with never-before-seen surveillance technology is set to hit Victoria’s skies.
The Westpac FireWatch fixed-wing aircraft will patrol high-risk fire areas on danger days under a sponsorship deal with one of Australia’s largest banks.
The aircraft is fitted with new electronic aerial reconnaissance technology which can capture images through cameras on the wings and stream information directly to fire controllers on the ground.
Victorian Premier John Brumby announced the new addition to Victoria’s firefighting armoury at Essendon Airport on Thursday.
He said the aircraft would be used on high risk days to patrol vulnerable areas, including the Dandenong Ranges, coastal areas and high density suburbs and towns in and around bushfire prone areas.
In addition, Toll Holdings has donated funds to refurbish six fire trucks and buy one new truck.
“These partnerships are a great example of how government, communities and the private sector are working together to rebuild after the tragic Black Saturday and Gippsland fires and to protect lives and homes from future bushfire threat,” Mr Brumby said.