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Biggest aerial firefighting fleet takes to the sky

DPaW uses American Champion Scouts for bushfire detection and suppression support
DPaW uses American Champion Scouts for bushfire detection and suppression support


  • State’s aerial firefighting fleet has largest ever water capacity
  • $12million invested to support firefighters on the ground

Western Australia’s aerial firefighting fleet will have a greater water bombing capacity than ever before as the State enters a predicted severe bushfire season.


Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis today welcomed the fleet’s ‘heavy artillery’, the Erikson Aircrane, which arrived in Perth this week for its third season.


“The aircrane is part of a new-look fleet that now has a total water bombing capacity of 48,600 litres, making it more effective than ever,” Mr Francis said.


“The investment in the aerial firefighting fleet reinforces the ‘Are You Ready’ message to the community and the Government’s commitment to bushfire preparedness. Last bushfire season the fleet protected more than 250 homes.”


The aerial firefighting fleet, which is jointly managed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW), comprises 22 rotary and fixed wing water bombers.


The DFES/DPaW State Operations Air Desk, a dedicated unit at the DFES Emergency Services Complex, has been enhanced to help dispatch and co-ordinate water bombing operations.


Acting Environment Minister John Day said the air desk, which operated seven days a week during summer, helped fire agencies respond to bushfires across the State with aircraft based in Perth, Bunbury, Busselton, Manjimup and Albany.


“The eight fixed wing water bombers, which are also used to spot potential bushfires, will be assisted by a new $70,000 sponsorship from Western Power to enable rapid detection and response to bushfires,” Mr Day said.


“The fire detection services of these aircraft are essential resources to help overcome the challenge of WA’s size and varied terrain.


“While State Government agencies are doing all they can to prepare for the bushfire season, people need to play their part and ensure they are bushfire ready.”


Investments in WA’s aerial firefighting fleet are made in partnership with the State and Federal Governments.


Federal Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the Commonwealth contributed $2.6million this year to Western Australia through the National Aerial Firefighting Arrangements.


The arrangements are an example of the co-operative approach taken between the Commonwealth and the States and Territories in sharing specialised resources and addressing the nation’s bushfire risk.


Fact File

  • The State Government contributes $9.4m and the Federal Government contributes $2.6m to the aerial fleet
  • The fleet includes the Erickson Aircrane, six Bell 214B Helitacs, eight fixed-wing water bomber aircraft, six Air Attack Supervisor platforms, and one Air Intelligence helicopter
  • Last season, the rotary fleet completed 2,500 drops and protected more than 250 homes
  • The fixed wing water bombers completed 2,200 missions including water drops and fire detection missions
  • More info to prepare for bushfires can be found at

Emergency Services Minister - 6552 6500


Last modified on Wednesday, 18 December 2013 10:41