In August, the ACT Government announced a $1.3 million project to buy a firefighting helicopter for its fire service, which would have saved the ACT fire service more than $1 million.
The Canberra Airport Authority was asked to pay for the helicopter, but it turned down the offer.
But a year later, the Federal Government announced $1,300,000 to buy another helicopter, which is now operational.
This week, the Canberra Airport authority announced that the new helicopter will fly in the ACT skies on September 8.
It’s the latest of a string of recent projects in the state that have brought increased funding to the ACT Fire Service.
“The aircraft is a real game changer for us,” Acting Chief Inspector Ian Smith said.
I think it will be very, very, helpful to us to continue to do the work that we’ve been doing.
“ACT Fire Services said it had invested more than the $1m it was told it would cost to buy the helicopter.
We’re confident that the aircraft will be operational within the budget and in the timeframe,” Acting Fire Chief Inspector Anthony O’Sullivan said.”
The helicopter is an important piece of our capability in that we need to be able to respond to fires on our behalf.”
The helicopter, called the RAAF Orion, is equipped with a crew of three and is able to deploy within three minutes.
Firefighters are able to reach the flames within three to five minutes and can fly for up to two hours before having to return to their base.
A total of 24 firefighters have been trained on the new aircraft since its arrival in the south east of the state.
Acting Fire Chief Inspectors Inspector Anthony Smith and Acting Chief Constable Andrew Hickey were the pilots on the RAA Orion.
“We have been in close contact with the RAF since the helicopter was delivered,” Acting Inspector O’Smith said.”[We]’ve had a couple of meetings and discussions with the crew and with the management of the aircraft and their concerns.”
It’s important to us that we have an understanding of how we can make this aircraft more robust.
“Acting Chief Inspector Smith said the RCA Orion was a significant investment in the fire service’s capability.”
They have trained their crews, they have trained the crew members and the aircraft is very, highly capable,” he said.
The Canberra Fire Brigade’s fire services are also receiving the new RAAF aircraft.