More investments into additional aerial firefighting capacity have been made by the Australia’s 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 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. An investment into floating collar tanks was also made, supplying water to the helicopter in areas with limited surface water.

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.

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

Arrangements are being put in place for the helicopter to operate in South Australia despite being originally contracted by the Victorian Government.