The Province of Nova Scotia is taking advantage of federal funding to replace its fleet of four helicopter water bombers.

“Being prepared for emergencies such as wildfires is critical to protecting communities and Nova Scotians. That’s why we’re considering all options and are upgrading our fleet of helicopters to ensure we can manage wildfires in the future,” said Tory Rushton, Minister of Natural Resources and Renewables. “Helicopters are very effective in fighting wildfires and they also serve us well for other uses. We’re grateful for our partnership with the federal government to support this major equipment purchase.”

The Province has started the procurement process to replace the fleet over four years. The cost is subject to negotiation with the supplier. While fighting wildfires, helicopters can scoop and dump water on a faster rotation than fixed-wing aircraft, dropping a higher volume in total on a wildfire. They can also draw water from smaller water bodies, making good use of Nova Scotia’s many lakes and ponds. Some fixed-wing aircraft need to land to reload, and others can only scoop from a large lake or the ocean.

Nova Scotia’s fleet of helicopters is also versatile, supporting search and rescue efforts, transporting people and equipment during emergencies and conducting aerial surveillance to support the work of several departments. A federal-provincial agreement on wildfire equipment and training is in place from 2022-27, with each level of government contributing $12.8 million. That will cover the cost of the helicopters and other equipment and training.