Australia — Victoria’s aerial firefighting capabilities have been boosted with the arrival of the first of three massive fire bombing helicopters.
The aircrane known as Elvis has been used to fight fires in Victoria for the past nine years.
This summer it will be joined by two more aircranes, which will be stationed at regional bases in Ballarat and the Latrobe Valley.
Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley says having them spread around will help improve response times.
“We will have the three major aircrafts based in Melbourne, but also in the regional locations, which will be fundamental to increase our capabilities but also make sure the firefighters on the ground are getting the right sort of support quicker,” he said.
The Department of Sustainability and Environment chief fire officer, Ewan Waller, says the Ballarat aircraft will provide firefighting support to western Victoria.
“Knowing there’s a lot of grass growth in western Victoria, that specifically came to mind so we put it in Ballarat,” he said.
The helicopters are capable of carrying up to 9,000 litres of water or foam and flying at speeds of up to 200 kilometres per hour.
Elvis will be based at Essendon Airport and is in service from today.