Australia Source: Australia Government Ministerial Statements Headline: Tasmanias firefighters of the sky take flight 4 January 2017 Joint Media Release Minister for Justice Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter Terrorism The Hon Michael Keenan MP Tasmania Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management Minister for Infrastructure The Hon Rene Hidding MP Liberal Senator for Tasmania Senator the Hon Eric Abetz
Tasmanias firefighting capabilities have been given a major boost this summer with todays launch of its aerial firefighting fleet.
This important investment comes as Tasmania prepares to mark 50 years since the devastating Black Tuesday fires which saw extensive property loss and damage as well as many injuries and losses of life.
The fleet was launched by Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz, representing the Minister for Justice Michael Keenan, Premier of Tasmania Will Hodgman and Tasmanian Minister for Police and Emergency Management Rene Hidding in Hobart.
Tasmanias aerial firefighting fleet includes seven permanent aircraft contracted through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC), which facilitates the sharing of aerial firefighting resources between States and Territories during the fire season. An additional aircraft, based in Victoria, will be shared with Tasmania during the bushfire season.
Minister Keenan said the Australian Government invests $14.8 million each year through NAFC to support states and territories and ensure Australians and our firefighters are protected by the best aerial firefighting aircraft possible.
The NAFC represents a cooperative national approach to disasters, providing specialised aircraft that might otherwise be out of reach for individual jurisdictions, Mr Keenan said.
This years national fleet consists of 127 specialised aircraft 64 planes and 63 helicopters strategically deployed across Australia, including six Erickson Aircranes which are capable of carrying up to 7,500 litres of fresh or salt water.
During the 2015-16 fire season, NAFC aircraft were activated on almost 5,000 occasions, predominantly for firebombing and emergency support operations. The aircraft also made more than 29,500 firebombing drops, containing more than 68 million litres of fire retardant and suppressant over 15 million of which was dropped in Tasmania.
Minister Hidding said the fleet, which includes two medium aircraft from McDermott Aviation, three light aircrafts, and two fixed wing firebombers would provide valuable firefighting support for Tasmania this fire season.
The 2015-16 bushfire season was a very challenging time that saw a massive deployment of aerial firefighting support in Tasmania, which confirms how vital it is in protecting Tasmanians from the threat of bushfires, Mr Hidding said.
This vital shared funding model achieves the best outcome for the community and the best possible support for firefighters.
It also adds to the Hodgman Governments record $28.5 million investment in fuel reduction over four years and means we head into this fire season better prepared than ever before.
Senator Abetz said Tasmania has been severely impacted by bushfires in the past resulting in both the loss of life and property and welcomed this important investment.
This national coordinated approach means that states like Tasmania can have the very best aerial support to help our firefighters protect their communities, Senator Abetz said.
I am pleased that this latest example of cooperation between the Federal and State Liberal Governments will see Tasmania better protected than ever before. This is particularly important as we mark 50 years since the devastating Black Tuesday fires which destroyed 1,200 homes, 7,000 people homeless, saw more than 900 injuries and 63 deaths.
I encourage all Australians to enhance their disaster resilience this summer by completing a bushfire plan. These can be located on the websites of fire agencies around the country.