50 new aircraft will be on hand to fight fires from the air and help keep communities safe for Victoria’s upcoming summer season.
The 50-strong fleet for the 2019-20 summer will include a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence gathering aircraft.
Victoria welcomes back two Large Air Tankers, which can carry up to 15,000L of water, foam or retardant and two Air Cranes, which are able to carry 7500L of water and are essential to supporting other aircraft strategically positioned across the state.
The Victorian fleet is one more aircraft than previous years. The additional aircraft is a supervising aircraft and will ensure that firebombing aircraft working in the Wimmera will be well supported while in the air.
Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp, said the aircraft fleet has been extremely effective in helping ground crews fight fires.
“The Victorian fleet has been critical in stopping the spread of fire over recent years, providing immediate response in the early stages of a fire and supporting firefighters on the ground,” Mr Crisp said.
Firefighting aircraft were dispatched 2466 times during 2018-19, an 11 per cent increase on the previous year.
Mr Crisp said aircraft would come online progressively as the fire risk increases.
“These 50 aircraft will be strategically positioned across the state and work with our firefighters to help keep communities safe.”
Above normal bushfire conditions are forecast in Gippsland, from the coastal and foothill forests of East Gippsland, extending into West Gippsland and the Great Dividing Range.
These areas have now experienced three consecutive years of significant low rainfall in autumn and winter. Similarly to last summer, normal bushfire conditions are likely for the rest of Victoria.
There is expected to be increased pasture and cropping in parts of the west due to winter rain.
With drier conditions also likely, there is a risk that ash forests in the Central Highlands and Otways may dry out at faster rates faster increasing the risk over summer.