Water bombers, smoke jumpers fire up Labor

17 March 2019

Published by https://www.9news.com.au/

AUSTRALIA- An elite unit of “smokejumpers” and a fleet of publicly-owned water-bombing planes and helicopters will boost Australia’s firefighting capacity if Labor wins the federal election.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has promised a $101 million to set up a national aerial bushfire fighting fleet of aircraft, with up to six large air water tankers and 12 helicopters, and boost the funding for the existing National Aerial Firefighting Centre.

The new aerial unit would also include a team of “smokejumpers”, or firefighters who would rappel from helicopters armed with chainsaws, hoes and other tools to set up containment lines around fires in remote areas.

These units are successfully used in California and other US states.

Mr Shorten says Australia’s firefighters and emergency services did an excellent job but needed more support from the government.

“At the moment, Australia doesn’t have a government-owned fleet of water bombing aircraft – making us reliant on borrowing from private companies domestically and from overseas,” he said on Sunday.

“The bushfire season in Australia is lengthening and already overlapping with the northern hemisphere, increasing the risk that we won’t be able to access the aircraft we need at times of peril. “

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