Green Triangle gets big aerial firefighting support

AIR SUPPORT: Pilot Simon Klein alongside the GTFA's new Helitak 336, which is now available in the Green Triangle region for the next three fire seasons. Picture: SUPPLIED

MORE investments into additional aerial firefighting capacity have been made by the Green Triangle’s timber plantation companies to help increase protection for plantation estates, the natural environment and the community.

For the next three fire seasons, the Green Triangle Fire Alliance (GTFA) has contracted a Bell helicopter which provides an increased water carrying capacity compared to the Squirrel helicopter which was operated for the last two fire seasons.

The new helicopter was contracted by the Victorian government and is now set to become a part of the Victorian aerial fleet.

The nine forest grower member companies within the GTFA will continue to fund operations for wherever the helicopter is needed in the region.

An investment into floating collar tanks was also made, supplying water to the helicopter in areas with limited surface water.

GTFA General Manager Anthony Walsh said the helicopter’s 1250 litre bucket could draw water from a variety of sources close to the fire line.

“This helicopter is highly complementary to the fixed wing fire bombers that operate in the region.” Mr Walsh said.

“While the fixed wing bombers carry a greater load, the advantage of a helicopter is that it can find water in close proximity to a fire which enables very short turnaround times.

“Other aircraft may leave the region to attend fires elsewhere across Victoria and South Australia, but this helicopter will remain at its Casterton base for the 14 week service period until March 2024.”

Mr Walsh said arrangements were being put in place for the helicopter to operate in South Australia despite being originally contracted by the Victorian Government.

“This helicopter provides a further layer of support to our Forest Industry Brigades that work tirelessly over the summer months to not only defend our forest estate, but to protect our broader communities,” Mr Walsh said.

The new helicopter has added to the 100 fire appliances and 300 trained firefighters available to respond to the upcoming fire seasons in the Green Triangle region.