Victorian Aerial Firefighting Fleet to Exceed 50 Aircraft

After an exceedingly dry winter season and predictions indicate a dangerously dry summer for Australia, the Victorian government announced that a record fifty aircraft have been booked for the 2019/2020 fire season in the temperate southern Australian state.

The Victorian Government announced Monday Spetember 1st, 2019, that the aircraft fleet will include water bombing fixed wing aircraft and helicopters that include two contracted Erickson Air Crane’s, air supervision helicopters and intelligence-gathering aircraft.

Victoria’s Police and Emergency Services Minister Lisa Neville said the aerial fleet was critical to protect the lives and properties of residents of the state this summer

Adding to the arsenal of aircraft scheduled to protect Victoria is the return of night time aerial firefighting that was pioneered in Victoria during testing conducted during the 2018 fire season.

Night time aerial firefighting has been based for the last two years in Ballarat, located about 90 minutes Southwest of the Victorian Capital of Melbourne. The state announced they would decide within the next two weeks where future nighttime aerial firefighting efforts would be based, but this will ultimately be determined by fire activity throughout the season.

The state of Victoria’s fire danger period typically begins in late November, but has started as early as September in recent years after dry conditions throughout the year increased the fire risk and amount of fuel available in bushland. 

Although Victoria has scheduled fifty aircraft for the fire season, if fires increase past the manageable level for that amount of aircraft, the Victorian government has a surge capacity through mutual aid agreements to double those numbers to over one hundred aircraft if needed.

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