Friday, 18 December 2020
Media release

Joint media release - Large air tanker boosts WA aerial firefighting capability

​​Joint media release with ​​the Hon David Littleproud MP, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, the Hon Francis Logan MP and the Hon Stephen Dawson MP.

Western Australia’s firefighting capability has been given a significant boost with today’s launch of its full aerial firefighting fleet of 35 aircraft, completed with the arrival of a Large Air Tanker (LAT) and the powerful Erickson Aircrane ‘Georgia Peach’.

Federal Minister for Emergency Management David Littleproud said the national aerial firefighting arrangements were a tremendous validation of the benefits of national cooperation.

“The Australian Government has boosted its annual investment in aerial firefighting to nearly $26 million funding to the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC) to ensure additional resources are available to firefighters,” Minister Littleproud said.

“A sophisticated fleet of more than 160 specialised, highly mobile aircraft are positioned around the country to protect our communities against bushfires.

“These aircraft provide invaluable assistance in fire suppression, and it’s their integration with the hard work of firefighters on the ground, along with a well-prepared community, that makes the difference.

“It’s clear that the shared investment by the Australian and state and territory governments in aerial firefighting will continue to save lives and property.”

Minister for Employment, Skills, Small and Family Business, Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash, said that protecting Western Australians from the threat of bushfires was a major priority for all levels of government.

“The Australian Government has made a record investment in national aerial firefighting capabilities, including here in Western Australia, to protect people, property and the environment,” Minister Cash said.

“While bushfires are a common feature of the Australian landscape, we must all stay vigilant against the threat of fires, particularly here in Western Australia where we are still experiencing drier than average conditions.

“Throughout this bushfire season, I encourage all Western Australians to have their bushfire plan ready and to heed warnings from our emergency services personnel.”

Western Australia Minister for Emergency Services Francis Logan said the aerial fleet played an important role in supporting firefighting efforts across WA.

“The aerial fleet is integral in intelligence gathering, fire suppression, fire containment, and can help make it safer for crews to access the fire ground,” Minister Logan said.

“This season the Large Air Tanker, which can carry the equivalent of five fixed-wing water bombers, will be a significant asset in firefighting efforts in difficult-to-reach areas, particularly in the State’s South West.

“However, there will never be as many water-bombing aircraft as there are houses, so we are asking the WA community to be prepared and make a bushfire plan, search ‘My Bushfire Plan’ or visit mybushfireplan.wa.gov.au.”

Western Australia Minister for Environment Stephen Dawson said bushfires were now an inevitable part of the Western Australian summer.

“Last summer we saw devastating bushfires across the country and in Western Australia, and we know that being prepared with aerial suppression measures to support ground crews makes a big difference to protecting life and property from the effects of bushfires.

"Using aerial and ground resources, the State Government continues to make significant efforts to suppress bushfires as well as reduce the amount of fuel firefighters have to confront in a bushfire.

"Since 1 July 2020, DBCA’s Parks and Wildlife Service has undertaken more than 90,000 hectares of prescribed burning across its three south-west forest regions, reducing combustible fuel and the risk of bushfire to our community and environment.

"On behalf of the people of WA I extend my appreciation to firefighters from DBCA's Parks and Wildlife Service, DFES, local brigades and volunteers, for helping to keep our communities safe.”​​