For a third year in a row the Rural Fire Service (RFS) will send their 737 Large Air Tanker (LAT), the ‘Marie Bashir’ to the United States of America to assist U.S. agencies during the American wildfire season.
Following a recent request from U.S. fire agencies, the aircraft left its home base at the RAAF Richmond Air Base this morning, for the west coast of America. The RFS aircraft made a 3-month deployment in 2022 where it was based in Boise, Idaho and helped firefighters battle 37 fires across 6 states including Idaho, Nevada and California, dropping more than 1.2 million litres of suppressants during the operations.
Requests for Australian support are made by the U.S. National Multi-Agency Coordinating Group through the Australian Fire and Emergency Services Authority Council (AFAC). The RFS 737 LAT will be on an initial deployment of just over 3 months, and available to return at short notice if the need arises here in NSW.
Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:
“It’s a huge sign of respect that our NSW firefighters are again being called upon to assist their international colleagues and now, for the third time, the RFS is providing one of the best tools in their aviation arsenal, to help to the agencies protecting US communities.
“Just last week we saw the deployment of almost 60 NSW personnel to Canada, as part of a 200 strong team from Australia and New Zealand and as always, our Emergency Services remain willing to assist where they can, whether at home in NSW, interstate or overseas.”
NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Rob Rogers said:
“Fire seasons all over the world are becoming longer and more intense but as we have just entered winter, we are happy to provide our Large Air Tanker to a country that needs the assistance.
“The fact that this is the third deployment of our aircraft to the US is testament to the fact our professional, highly trained, and experienced aviation specialists are greatly sought after.
“While we wish our crew a safe journey and all the best for the work they will be doing, we also wish US agencies and firefighters all the best and our thoughts are with those communities impacted.
“The RFS has the nation’s largest aerial firefighting fleet, and the service will always be willing to assist when we can.”