Victoria is ready to face the most hazardous fire season of the year, with the seventh annual Night Aviation Program launching.
Minister for Emergency Services, Jaclyn Symes, and Emergency Management Commissioner, Andrew Crisp, visited Essendon Airport to inform the public about the program and its 50–strong firefighting fleet.
The aircraft include two night firebombing helicopters and a Firebird 308 helicopter, which has been equipped with an infrared high–definition video camera to aid decision–making and stream to control centres.
The helicopters are based at Essendon Airport but can be deployed across the state. The night crew is highly experienced and will complete reconnaissance flights in the afternoon before conducting water bombing flights at night.
The Victorian government has invested in fire surveillance and response, and the aircraft have already responded to around 200 fires this summer. In addition to firefighting, they have also been of great help during the flood response.
Other aircraft in the fleet include two Large Air Tankers based at Avalon Airport, a Super Puma based at Mangalore, a Black Hawk based at Ballarat, a Bell 214ST helicopter flying out of Gippsland, and an Aircrane capable of holding 9,000 litres of water-based at Moorabbin.
Victoria also has access to a Q400 Large Air Tanker through national aircraft arrangements and can draw upon a surge capacity of up to 100 aircraft, including thousands of dedicated emergency services personnel from all agencies.
For more information on how to prepare for fires and other emergencies, people can download the VicEmergency app or visit emergency.vic.gov.au.