Treatment pond used to help combat fires

WATER ACCESS: The water treatment pond Kimberly-Clark Australia have offered to the CFS for usage during fire season. SUPPLIED/KIMBERLY-CLARK.

Melanie Riley

KIMBERLY Clark Australia (KCA) has recently opened up their water treatment pond at the Millicent mill to assist the South Australian (SA) Country Fire Service (CFS) to combat fires.

As part of SA CFS preparedness, open water sources situated in or near fire risk areas are assessed to determine if they’re suitable for firefighting aircraft to use.

A new fleet of SA Country Fire Service aerial firefighting aircraft have taken to the region’s skies recently, with the addition of three Air Tractor AT-802 fixed-wing bombing aircraft, two Squirrel helicopters and one Blackhawk Helitak 515 helicopter now in service.

The Blackhawk Helitak 515 is new to the area and requires the ability to access suitable open water sources to hover fill.

The filling process takes less than 60 seconds and loads approximately 4000 litres of water.

The aim was to find a source that allows the aircraft to fill up and deliver water to fires in the shortest time possible.

A source assessment at the water treatment pond was carried out in January this year, which involved a helicopter that conducted a test run at the treatment pond.

The test included two hover fills and water bombing drops, which were successfully carried out.

Having this option available to the CFS can make a significant difference in keeping pine and dense scrub fires under control, particularly in the forests around Mount Burr and Tantanoola.

Millicent mill manager Adam Carpenter said KCA has a long history of supporting the SA CFS.

“We recognise the crucial importance of the service to the region,” he said.

“We’re a tight knit community, with a real focus on supporting each other and the land around us.”

With several of the Millicent mill workers on the volunteer firefighting team, the CFS is an organisation that is important to many of the staff at KCA and Mr Carpenter said KCA’s decision to assist the CFS was an easy one.

“We know how devastating and unpredictable bushfires can be, so when the CFS came to us to see if they could test the treatment pond for aerial firefighting we were quick to say yes,” Mr Carpenter said.

“We understand that access to clean fresh water can be difficult in this area and can save the CFS significant transit time to potential forest fires.

“We hope that by using the treatment pond, the CFS’s aerial firefighting team will have easy access to a large additional water source to stem fires that are threatening our community.”

Manager state aviation operations for the SA Country Fire Service, Nik Stanley was appreciative of the collaboration and offer of the water treatment pond.

“The opportunity for us to use the water treatment ponds at Kimberly-Clark’s Millicent Mill will provide us with a significant advantage in our firefighting operations in the south east of South Australia during the bushfire season,” he said.

“This level of cooperation between the CFS and local industry delivers significant benefit to the wider community.”