Water bombing choppers ready to tackle 2014 bushfire season

QUEENSLAND Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) is leaving no stone unturned in its preparations for this year’s bushfire season, with the addition of three specialist firefighting helicopters on standby as part of its firefighting artillery.

Rural Fire Service Queensland (RFSQ) Assistant Commissioner Neil Gallant said this was the second year of a three year contract with Queensland based company McDermott Aviation who supply the water bombing helicopters.

“The three helicopters will be based out of Archerfield Airfield in Brisbane for the duration of the bushfire season,” Mr Gallant said.


“Two of the fleet are Bell 214B helicopters, which and have an individual water bombing capacity of 2,650 litres, and are capable of making a substantial impact at large-scale bushfires.

“These aircraft also have the capacity to source water while hovering over dams, or alternatively, they can utilise water from hose sources via portable collar tanks.

“While in the air, the Bell 214Bs fly with a third aircraft, an AS355 Twin Squirrel Air Attack Platform helicopter, which is flown under the direction of an Air Attack Supervisor, who coordinates and advises the exact location of water drops for maximum effect.

“These three aircraft will have an initial response area of 120 kilometres from Archerfield, and will be available, from August to November.

“A fourth helicopter can also be called upon year round to provide additional firefighting and rescue capability.

“In addition to our contract with McDermott Aviation, QFES also has access to over 90 aircraft across the State, which are available on a ‘call when needed’ basis, throughout the fire season.”

Mr Gallant joined 20 firefighters qualified in air operations at a refresher course at Ripley Fire Station as part of their preparations for the bushfire season.

“QFES is well equipped to respond to this year’s bushfire season.

“Throughout the State, our crews have been undertaking mitigation in the form of hazard reduction burns as part of Operation Cool Burn,” he said.

“Our Air Operations Unit has also overseen a variety of aerial firefighting training workshops for rural and urban firefighters across Queensland in order to tackle the season head-on.”