The State Government has boosted its aerial fire fighting capability to protect community assets and environment values during the current fire emergency period.
Four fixed-wing water bombers and two helitacs have been brought in to increase the Government’s aerial fire fighting fleet to 18 aircraft.
The additional fixed-wing aircraft mean there now will be four bombers stationed at Perth, three each at Bunbury and Manjimup and two in Albany.
The two helitacs will join the four currently based in Perth.
Environment Minister Tony McRae said the move was part of the Carpenter Government’s commitment to increase resources for fire authorities and land management agencies to protect the community and environmental values.
Mr McRae said the additional aircraft would enable more water to be dumped more rapidly while fires were in the early stages of development and to protect assets.
“They also provide greater flexibility and enable the Department of Environment and Conservation and FESA to base the bombers in areas where there is the greatest threat of fires occurring following summer thunderstorms and lightning,” he said.
The additional water bombers include an Airtractor 802 able to drop 3,200 litres within seconds, two Airtractor 602s and one Dromader that carry around 2,500 litres each.
The 802 and 602 aircraft are very quick through the air with speeds of up to 300 km/h.
The water bombers save more than $10million worth of community and environmental assets every year.
The two helitacs are Agusta A119s, commonly known as Koalas.
They have a capacity of 1,000 litres and a maximum cruising speed of 250 km/h.
Last summer the four Perth-based helitacs managed by FESA had saved property worth $12million and had protected assets worth a further $28million.
“The Government has made major commitments to increasing resources for fire crews this summer,“ Mr McRae said.
“We have pumped an extra $5.5million into fire-fighting equipment such as fire tankers, high lift pumpers, communications equipment and heavy earthmoving machinery.
“But the reality is that the best investment all communities can make in protecting themselves against bush fires, is to have an action plan and make sure their properties are well prepared for fire.”
Fire and Emergency Services Minister John Kobelke said extremely dry conditions over most of the South-West meant that the threat from bush fires this summer had increased.
“This is clearly evident from the current fire that at times has threatened the communities of Dwellingup, Pinjarra and Coolup and potentially Waroona and other recent fires in Julimar and Toodyay,” Mr Kobelke said.
“We also have had some significant fires in the past few days in the Perth metropolitan area such as Sunday’s blaze at Forrestdale.
“Because of these events and the continuing relatively hot weather today, I have declared a Bush Fire Emergency Period for the South-West and Goldfields which means there is a total fire ban until the declaration is revoked.”
Minister's Office - 9213 7150