Bendigo fighters take blaze battle to skies

BENDIGO’S new aerial firefighting team is taking to the skies almost every day, according to Mike Wassing from the CFA.

Mr Wassing said co-ordinated fire responses from both ground and air crews was building confidence among both fire fighters and the general public.

“We’ve got some qualitative and quantitative information already that suggests it’s certainly saved hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of property,” Mr Wassing said.

“To use some of the terms that the brigades and members of the community have used theR airRcraft is ‘awesome’, ‘fantastic’, ‘wow’ and those sorts of things.

“Just by the nature of it, having a truckload of water put in the right place is very, very effective.

“I get a lot of feedback from community members – they see the helicopter, they hear it – and it builds confidence.

“So it’s not only handy in terms of firefighting but also in what it can do to build community confidence.”

The aerial firefighting crews were on standby during yesterday’s extreme weather and were ready to respond to any fire threat.

Mr Wassing said the combined air and ground crew response and the trial involving the automatic response from the water bombers, were a great example of various agencies working together.

“We’ve had a couple of fires recently where crews couldn’t get in to because of rocky terrain but the aircraft can,” he said.

“Yes, there’s a lot of money attached to them but, ultimately, they save that amount of money plus more.

“They’re fantastic.”

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