TWO firefighting helicopters arrived in Bendigo on Wednesday in preparation for the fire season.
The aircraft will be used throughout summer by Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) and the CFA to respond to fires in Central Victoria.
FFMVic regional manager for fire and emergency preparedness Carsten Nannestad said the water-bombers will use existing systems.
“The helicopters will be deployed using the pre-determined dispatch system that has been successfully used in Bendigo over the past five seasons,” Mr Nannestad said.
“As soon as a fire is reported the water-bombing helicopter is deployed so we can hit the fire hard and fast in the initial stages and stop it spreading. Aircraft are also particularly useful for fires in inaccessible areas that could take vehicles some time to reach.”
CFA Loddon Mallee regional commander Scott Purdy said the aircraft will help ensure a safer community during fire season.
“The arrival of the aircraft and subsequent fire-bombing capability is a significant contributor to controlling bushfires,’’ Mr Purdy said.
“This aerial capability supplements the great work our crews do on the ground.
These pre-determined dispatch arrangements result in the aircraft being dispatched simultaneously with fire trucks meaning we have a greater chance of limiting the size and spread of fires in the early stages.
“The flow-on effect of this is that potentially less property is lost or damaged by bushfires, and having rapid response aircraft reduces the length of time firefighters are required on scene.
“We have had lots of feedback from the community over the past few years that seeing and hearing the helicopter in the sky on a bad fire day gives them confidence and reassurance that the fire services are doing all they can to limit the impact of fires on the community.”
The firefighting aircraft will be based at the Bendigo Airport and include a Helitak 335: Bell 214B water bombing helicopter and a Firebird 305: Airbus EC120 helicopter. The aircraft based in Bendigo are part of Victoria’s fleet of 49 firefighting aircraft.