WA extends Large Air Tanker deployment due to elevated bushfire risk


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Extended Large Air Tanker Service in Western Australia Amid Increased Bushfire Threat

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) in Western Australia has confirmed an extension of the Large Air Tanker’s (LAT) service in response to the heightened risk of bushfires this autumn.

This decision follows the release of the Autumn Seasonal Bushfire Outlook by the Australasian Fire Authorities Council, which predicts hot, dry, and windy conditions in the coming months.

The South West Land Division reported its second hottest year in 2023, resulting in a drier landscape across a significant portion of the state.

While the risk in central and northern WA remains normal, the West Kimberley region also faces dry conditions, potentially impacting prescribed burn operations.

Aerial Support and Public Readiness

The LAT will now remain operational in WA until 27 March, with support from Helitaks and Black Hawk helicopters available until April.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM emphasised community vigilance and preparedness.

He said: “The most severe heat may be gone, but the bushfire risk hasn’t.

“We have also extended our ‘Got 15 minutes to burn?’ advertising campaign into autumn because we want to see every Western Australian household well prepared with a plan so they can stay safe in an emergency.”

Commissioner Klemm also stressed the importance of having a bushfire plan, noting the stark contrast between the low percentage of households with a recorded plan and the high proportion of the state prone to bushfires.

Efforts and Achievements of Firefighters

Paying tribute to the dedication of firefighters, Commissioner Klemm highlighted the challenging season, with over 3757 bushfires responded to since October.

The DFES’ aerial fleet played a crucial role, flying more than 1640 hours across 152 incidents, deploying over 12 million litres of water and retardant.

Additional Statistics and Efforts

Notably, Large Air Tankers have flown 74 hours and dropped 856,372 litres of water and retardant this season.

The LAT began operations earlier than scheduled, and other aerial assets were also activated ahead of time.

The State Government’s funding for the aerial fleet, which includes over 30 aircraft, underscores the commitment to bushfire management and prevention.

IFSJ Comment

The decision by the DFES to extend the LAT’s service in WA is a direct response to the increased bushfire threat as indicated by the Autumn Seasonal Bushfire Outlook.

The extended service of aerial firefighting assets, coupled with the emphasis on community readiness, highlights the ongoing efforts to mitigate bushfire risks effectively.

This initiative demonstrates a coordinated and proactive approach to bushfire management, essential in regions with high bushfire susceptibility.

It also underscores the vital role of community engagement and preparedness in ensuring safety during bushfire seasons.

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