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Increased aerial firefighting capacity for this summer


Tasmania’s firefighting agencies will have additional contracted airpower for the upcoming 2013 – 14 bushfire season.

With assistance from the National Aerial Firefighting Centre (NAFC), Tasmania Fire Service (TFS), Parks and Wildlife Service and Forestry Tasmania have secured five firefighting aircraft for next summer’s bushfire season.

NAFC recently completed an extensive tendering process in a highly competitive market for contracted firefighting aircraft services across all states and territories.

The successful preferred suppliers will come from Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, resulting in two aircraft being contracted for the north of the state and three for the south; however the aircraft can be repositioned around the state, dependent on the greater bushfire risk.

Tasmanian based helicopter companies will continue to be used, when required for additional capacity during the bushfire season, under ‘call when needed’ arrangements.

NAFC spokesperson Richard Alder said, “The cooperative approach and subsequent combined purchasing power of all the states and territories has enabled us to provide Tasmania with a greatly increased aircraft capacity that is significantly better value for money. These highly specialised firefighting aircraft are supported with funding from the Australian Government.”

TFS chief officer Mike Brown added, “The five NAFC contracted aircraft offer excellent flexibility and will be used for a number of roles including water bombing, mapping, transporting crews and equipment as well as providing firefighting agencies with a capacity to gather information from the air on what the fire is doing and where it might be heading. Importantly, the combined water bombing capacity of these aircraft is significantly increased. The start date for the contracted aircraft is very dependent on how our bushfire season is shaping up, however we would anticipate their arrival being just prior to the bushfire danger period.”