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Police, Fire and Emergency Management - Firefighting Assets


Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 9 September 2021

Tags: Bushfires, Tasmanian Fire Service, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, what monitoring and early attack assets are guaranteed in Tasmania; assuming there will be situations where other states' assets - aircraft and people and services - are consumed fighting fires in their own jurisdictions?

Mrs PETRUSMA - Are you asking what we're doing in preparedness for the upcoming bushfire season with aircraft placement?

Dr WOODRUFF - What do we have in terms of monitoring and spotting and firefighting assets?

Mr BARRY - We have 11 aircraft available for this upcoming season. One of the best things we've got is the intelligence capable helicopter. This is military-grade technology that we can use in two ways. We can use it with an existing fire, where it can see through the smoke. That gives us a better way to plot and understand the fire front and the behaviour of the fire on the ground. Often that's a confusing message, because you've got a lot of smoke and it's difficult to understand what's going on.

It can also be used well away from a fire ground itself. We can continue to have our aerial attacks and those kinds of things supporting the operations, while this helicopter is looking to see the effectiveness.

This year we're also looking at one of the great risks in the wilderness areas, around lightning strikes, of course. The Bureau of Meteorology (BoM) works with us and advises yes, there's a lightning storm coming or whatever; we can monitor the path of that. Sometime within 12 hours you'll fly these aircraft and look for hot spots and smoke, et cetera. This is around pre-empting or trying to get ahead of fires, because all fires - or most fires - start very small and, of course, they grow. The sooner we can make those interventions, the sooner we can contain them and extinguish them.

Dr WOODRUFF - 100 per cent. They not only risk wilderness values but they may move into other communities which is obviously what we saw in 2018 19. You said there were 11 aircraft. Could you detail what different sorts of aircraft? One of them is an intelligence capable helicopter.

Mrs PETRUSMA - There are seven helicopters and four fixed-wing bombers that are being pre-positioned in strategic locations around the state. That's what we will have access to. It's including the aerial intelligence gathering helicopter joining the fleet this year. It will gather data to support operations and we also have nearly 25 on call, when needed, aircraft across Tasmania.

Dr WOODRUFF - That's different to that number of 11.

Mrs PETRUSMA - We have access to the aircraft but then we have another 25 that we can have on call. Also, on top of that, of course, we have our remote area firefighters and, yes, the funding that we put aside for bushfire preparedness as well.