Fixed-wing waterbombers will again be based in grain-growing regions of Western Australia to boost firefighting capability and reduce the severity of crop fires during the hottest stretch of harvest.
Now entering its third year, the Grain Harvest Aerial Fleet allows strike teams to be deployed to high-priority fires at short notice, boosting response times across Western Australia's nine-million hectare grain production area. Two strike teams will be periodically based throughout the Mid West-Gascoyne, Wheat belt and Great Southern regions, with the duration of each deployment to be based on ongoing risk assessments.
Each strike team includes a five-person crew, two fixed-wing waterbombers, an air attack supervision aircraft and a fuel truck that can be deployed to assist ground crews.
During the 2022-23 harvest, the strike teams completed 205 drops across 28 incidents, dropping 645,750 liters on fire grounds from Geraldton to Esperance.
The program is funded by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services with support from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development.