Australia has added another water bombardment plane to its fleet this bushfire season, capable of dumping 15,000 liters of water or retardant on problematic fires.
The large tanker touched down in eastern Fiji on Thursday and will head directly to Western Australia to witness a volatile season already underway there.
The aircraft will be available for all states and territories to use throughout the year, based on lessons learned from the catastrophic 2019-2020 bushfires.
“Usually we hire boats for our actual bushfire season,” Emergency Management Minister Bridget McKenzie told 2GB.
“But the Royal Commission on Natural Disasters said we really need this capacity on the ground 12 months a year.”
The plane needs a name too, with rural and regional schoolchildren in grades 5-8 being called upon to do the honors.
“They’re all in communities and homes that are now supposed to write their firefighting plans, so it really does raise awareness that it’s everyone’s business to prepare for natural disasters,” said Mrs. McKenzie.
WA has already faced several serious fires in recent months, and the state faces even greater danger as heatwave conditions intensify as Christmas and New Years approach.
Two Black Hawk helicopters also joined the Western Fire Fighting Air Fleet for the first time this season, on loan from the United States and New Zealand.
The highly versatile choppers can operate for up to 10 hours a day with the help of DFES portable tankers and can replenish water to neck tanks or smaller bodies of water than airplanes.
“The drop capability provided by these planes is substantial and their agility to be able to operate independently or together will provide emergency services with more versatility to fight fires,” said the WA Fire Marshal and Emergency Services. , Darren Klemm.
“The Black Hawks are welcome additions to the air fleet and will play a key role in keeping Western Australians safe this bushfire season.”