Western Australia’s aerial firefighting fleet can fly further and for a much longer period than ever before, thanks to a new aircraft set to be equipped with advanced hazard-mapping technology.
The pride of the State’s aerial firefighting fleet is a new Dauphin helicopter FIREBIRD 661, which has been brought on to boost WA’s aerial surveillance and reconnaissance capability. It will fly for up to 306 days of the year compared to the previous 110-day fixed service.
The new helicopter is faster and has a longer range compared with earlier rotary craft, including an extra hour’s flying time and 300 kilometres of additional deployment range.
It can be deployed from its Jandakot base to locations as far away as Esperance or Kalgoorlie, without having to refuel.
The Dauphin will have high-definition television and infrared thermal imaging which allows crews to see through smoke to map fires, and detect ember attacks and hotspots. It also has optional night capacity.
Analysts will use the data to generate maps in real-time, giving firefighters on the ground the edge in the fire fight.
The new helicopter will work in partnership with FIREBIRD 662 which was added in 2017 and provided firefighter transport, remote area flood relief and flew more hours than any other aircraft in the fleet.
WA Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan and WA Environment Minister Stephen Dawson launched the State’s aerial fleet for the 2018-19 bushfire season.
The joint WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the WA Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions aerial fleet consists of 28 rotary and fixed wing aircraft and the Erickson Aircrane ‘Georgia Peach’, which made its return to Perth’s skies.
The fleet, based across WA, is jointly funded by the WA Government and the Federal Government through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.
Source: WA Government