Australia — As many of South Australia’s regions enter the new fire season today, our emergency services showcased their resources that will be used to protect communities against fires lit by arsonists.
Combining the Metropolitan Fire Service, South Australian Police, Country Fire Service and Forestry SA resources, the battle is on again to stop fire-lighters in their tracks with Operation Nomad.
Brevet Sergeant Sam Thorn from SAPOL’s Special Task and Rescue Squad is commonly found in the POLAIR chopper during the fire season, helping to deter would-be fire lighters and capture those who do.
STAR group officers are rostered on to Operation Nomad duties throughout the fire season as helicopter crew observers and ground patrollers on days of high fire danger.
Brevet Sergeant Thorn said the police helicopter worked in two ways for the patrols, by providing an audible and visual presence to deter arsonists and then as an outstanding viewing platform to track unusual vehicle movements in forestry areas on high fire danger days.
The helicopter is manned with a closed circuit television camera and a Forward Looking Infrared device (FLIR) to help airborne officers track would-be crims.
“In a one to two hour period, we can cover all of the forest areas in the outer-metropolitan areas in up to a 100 kilometre [radius] from the city.”
With the greatest threat from bushfires to residential property found in the Adelaide Hills, Brevet Sergeant Thorn said the POLAIR chopper was irreplaceable.
“In the Hills it’s quite windy and difficult to manoeuvre around a lot of it by road, by air it is just so easy to fly straight over and take in what is occurring.”