Fire safety, not cost, is top consideration

IT WILL be interesting to see the final results of a trial placing two water bombers and a scout helicopter at the forefront of the firefighting effort across central Victoria this summer.

The trial is a joint initiative by the Country Fire Authority, Department of Sustainability and Environment, fire service commissioner and the state aircraft unit.

It involves water bombing aircraft being given a rapid response role in fighting fires instead of sitting and waiting for a call from ground crews at the scene.

The Bendigo Advertiser got some great footage of the Helitak 335 water bomber in action fighting a fire at Raywood back on December 12.

The power and effectiveness of the water bomber was clearly evident.

It’s great to see authorities taking a pro-active approach to fire fighting with this trial.

Anything that gives fire crews an advantage must be investigated.

It’s clear aircraft play a pivotal role in attacking fires and it makes sense they arrive at the scene as soon as possible.

It’s encouraging to hear early assessments of the trial have shown advantages in protecting property and farm land.

The only negative to this trial appears to be cost.

A significant financial investment is needed to keep three aircraft operating from an airport through the entire fire danger period.

These aircraft have also already been turned around on their way to a fire because they were not needed.

But surely this comes under the “better safe than sorry” policy. If this trial proves effective and those early indications of the advantage in protecting assets confirmed, cost shouldn’t enter the equation.

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