Aus state launches night aviation patrols for fire-risk period in summer

by IANS |

Melbourne, Feb 6 (IANS) Australia's second most populated state Victoria on Monday kicked off its night aviation program for the seventh consecutive year in preparation for the highest fire-risk period during summer.

The state's Minister for Emergency Services Jaclyn Symes and Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp visited the Essendon Airport on Monday, where three helicopters engaged for night aviation operations are based, reports Xinhua news agency.

The aircraft are part of the state's 50-strong firefighting fleet.

According to the state government, the night aviation program includes two night firebombing helicopters, including a CH47 Chinook, and an aerial intelligence gathering Firebird 308 helicopter equipped with an infra-red high-definition video camera.

Highly-experienced crew will complete reconnaissance flights during the afternoon before conducting water bombing flights at night.

"As grasses dry out, the night aviation fleet provides a vital extra element in our efforts to protect communities across the state. This is the period where we know risk can be higher, and we're remaining vigilant night and day," said Symes.

The Country Fire Authority (CFA) in Victoria also urged people to have a bushfire survival plan in place and know when to leave early, as the fire season carries on and the risk of grassfires increases across the state.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan noted that it's extremely difficult to think clearly during an emergency, so it's crucial for Victorians living in high-risk areas to have a plan in place.

"It's as simple as having a written and practised plan, so you and your family can put it into action when you're faced with the risk of fire," Heffernan said.

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