Sydney's secret weapon to battle bushfires
A world-first secret weapon is being deployed by NSW firefighters ahead of bushfire season.
Originally a 737 aircraft, ‘Gaia’ is the latest weapon in the armoury of NSW emergency services as they prepare for a summer full of fire danger.
With the capacity to carry more than 15,000 litres of fire retardant, Gaia is set to be used for direct attacks on both bush and grass fires, as well as creating containment lines and providing urban interface protection.
It is the first 737 to be used for firefighting anywhere in the world.
NSW Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant said a new $26.3 million worth of funding would enable firefighters to invest more heavily in airborne fire defence systems.
“This major funding injection will fortify our fleet into the future and provide year-round long range aerial firefighting capabilities to complement our existing aviation resources,” Mr Grant said.
“With longer bush fire seasons comes the increasing threat of severe fires, which is why the NSW Government is leading the way by providing our firies with the very best resources to help protect lives and properties.”
Mr Grant said the multi-million-dollar cash injection would be used to buy another large air tanker (LAT) such as Gaia and two fixed wing aircraft to scan bushfire-prone areas.
“These aircraft really are heroes in the sky when our firies are battling big blazes with little relief from the gruelling conditions,” said Mr Grant.
NSW Rural Fire Service Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said Gaia is ready to be deployed this summer.
“Having these aircraft available to assist our firefighters on the ground is such an important tool to have in the kit all year round,” said Mr Rogers.
“Gaia is the last of a record four LATs being used during this year’s bush fire season, and has recently completed testing in the US so it can now be dispatched into the field when required.”