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Aircranes firing in the sky
Two powerful Aircranes dubbed 'Delilah' and 'Malcolm' have arrived to protect Victoria from the threat of grassfires and bushfires this summer.
*Federal and State Government media release*
Minister for Justice Michael Keenan said the Commonwealth's $14 million annual investment in aerial firefighting aircraft provides a major boost to the emergency response efforts of the States and Territories.
“The National Aerial Firefighting Arrangements are an example of the cooperative approach taken between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories in addressing and responding to Australia's bushfire risk,” Mr Keenan said.
“By working together with the States and Territories and sharing specialised resources we are ensuring Australians are protected by the best aerial firefighting equipment possible,” Mr Keenan said.
Victorian Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Bushfire Response Kim Wells today joined Victoria's Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley to welcome the two Aircranes during a training drill at Greenvale Reservoir.
“Delilah and Malcolm will lead Victoria's 42-strong air fleet which will support firefighters on the ground this summer,” Mr Wells said.
“The distinctive orange Aircranes have been brought to Victoria especially for the summer period and will be deployed from Essendon and Ballarat to bolster the state's aerial water-bombing capabilities.”
The Erickson Aircranes are equipped to carry up to 7,500 litres of water or foam, can hover-fill in 38 seconds, and are capable of cruising at 212 km/h.
Two Sikorsky S61 helicopters, which each carry 3,500 litres of water, have also arrived for the summer and will be deployed from Colac and Mansfield.
Mr Wells said last summer more than 4,000 bush and grassfires burnt 190,000 hectares of land in Victoria and the risk of fires this summer would be similar.
“Spring rain is not a reason to become complacent. The high rainfall has resulted in significant grass growth and forecasts show parts of Victoria are at above average risk of bushfire and grassfires this summer,” Mr Wells said.
“No matter where you live, you need to understand your fire risk and be ready to act if fire breaks out. The message is simple: leave and live.”
Mr Lapsley said the Aircranes and helicopters could be deployed quickly.
“These four machines are the powerhouses of Victoria's extensive airfleet. The remainder of the fleet will assist with bushfire first-attack and major fire suppression activities,” Mr Lapsley said.
“Victoria has the best airfleet in Australia, with a flexible mix of aircraft for the different fire situations crews encounter across the state.”
Mr Wells said along with Victoria's fleet of 24 helicopters and 18 fixed wing aircraft, more than 100 contracted aircraft can be called upon as required.
“Our fire services are well prepared for this summer and the airfleet is just one part of the state's resources that will work hard to protect the state, but all Victorians still need to ensure they have their own plan and are prepared for the risk of fires.”