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Fire Boss ready to scoop
A new Fire Boss fixed-wing plane stationed at Albury is ready to function as a fully-fledged ‘scooping’ aircraft after being fitted with specialised floats allowing it to land on a body of water.
Designed to let the air tanker scoop water from dams, the specialised floats came from the United States where they have been used successfully to aid fire suppression efforts.
Victorian fire agencies took the decision to include this type of aircraft in the fleet after looking at its successful use in New South Wales last summer.
CFA Operations Manager Paul King said the 2014-15 season would be the first time for a number of years that CFA and DELWP (formerly DEPI) had used fixed wing scooping aircraft to fight fires.
“Scooping from open water, especially if the water is nearer the fire, means far more water can be dropped on the fire compared to if the aircraft has to land and refill,” he said.
“There are a number of suitable open water sources in the north east that will be ideal for the Fireboss’s scooping mechanism. A pilot and other fire personnel have been out doing a flyover this morning (Friday 16 January), familiarising themselves with those water sources and checking for obstructions.”
Mr King said the Fire Boss would be dispatched to grass or bush fires at the same time as ground crews. “This ‘predetermined’ model for dispatch of aircraft gives us a coordinated attack from the ground and the air – this also occurs with our aircraft at Benalla, Shepparton and Mansfield,” he said.
Since it arrived in Albury last month the Fire Boss has operated as a regular water-bombing aircraft, using wheels for take-off and landing on solid ground.
Fast facts – the Fire Boss
- This is the first time in recent years Victoria has used fixed-wing scooping aircraft
- The Fire Boss can pick up 3,200 litres of water from an open water source in 14 seconds
- 1.5km of space free of debris is needed to complete the scoop
- Water authorities give aircraft permission to scoop water.
Fast facts – Victoria’s fleet
- Aircraft are used to support on-ground firefighters and are a joint resource among fire agencies.
- Victoria’s fleet of 46 fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters can be moved around the state to where they are needed depending on fire activity
- A range of different types of aircraft provide maximum flexibility for Victoria’s varied terrain.