Choppers arrive for fire season

THE arrival of three water bombing helicopters this week marks an increased state of readiness for the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service as another busy bushfire season looms in the Gympie region.

Emergency Services Minister Neil Roberts and QFRS’s Rural Operations Assistant Commissioner Steve Rothwell yesterday welcomed the helicopters, contracted for a 12-week high-risk period.

“The events of last year’s fire season saw an unprecedented use of aircraft for both aerial suppression and reconnaissance in providing operational support to fire fighting ground crews,” Mr Roberts said.

Assistant Commissioner Rothwell said the helicopters were a vital tool in the fire fighting arsenal and, aside from aerial surveillance and intelligence, the contracted helicopters have the ability to drop more than 900 litres of water every three minutes if a water supply is within three kilometres of the fire area.

“The QFRS also has access to numerous other aircraft for air observation or water bombing activities through a ‘call when needed’ register of aviation operators,” Assistant Commissioner Rothwell said.

“This register ensures that aerial resources are available on short notice during times of demand. On one particularly high demand day during last year’s bushfire season 18 aircraft were engaged by QFRS across Queensland.”

QFRS continues to urge Queenslanders to prepare for bushfire season, reminding of the declaration of a fire danger period between midnight August 29 to midnight January 2, 2011.

The announcement means small fires can no longer be lit without a permit during the period.

Gympie Times

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