The following Question without notice was asked of both the Minister for Emergency Services and Minister for Environment by the Hon Colin de Grussa in the Legislative Council last week. Both answers were provided by the Hon Stephen Dawson as Minister for Environment and on behalf of the Hon Fran Logan, Minister for Emergency Services:
Hon Colin de Grussa: I refer to the state’s aerial firefighting capacity for the 2017–18 fire season.
(1) How many aircraft, what types of aircraft and at what locations will the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and Department of Parks and Wildlife aerial firefighting fleet, either government-owned or contracted, be stationed during the 2017–18 summer?
(2) Does the government plan to expand the state’s aerial firefighting capacity?
(3) Will aerial firefighting aircraft be stationed in Esperance?
(4) What arrangements does the government have in place to allow local government to enter directly into service contracts with aerial water-bombing providers if aircraft owned or contracted by the government are unavailable?
(5) Can the minister explain what provisions will be put in place by the government to access 10 converted ex–United States Army Black Hawk helicopters being brought into Australia for firefighting operations?
HON STEPHEN DAWSON: On behalf of the Minister for Emergency Services, I would like to provide an answer to Hon Colin de Grussa’s question without notice 398 asked last week on 16 August.
I thank the Honourable Member for some notice of this question. The Minister for Emergency Services advises the following:
(1) The 2017-18 seasonal aerial firefighting fleet is jointly managed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) and the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA) and consists of:
- Eight AirTractor AT802F fixed wing single engine air tankers (SEATs), two of each based at Jandakot, Bunbury Manjimup and Albany, with an additional two aircraft available if required;
- Six Bell 214 Helitaks, four based at Jandakot and two at Busselton;
- One Erickson S64E Aircrane high volume Helitak based at Serpentine;
- Two Squirrel light helicopters for air attack supervision based at Jandakot;
- Four Champion Scout light fixed wing aeroplanes for air attack supervision based at Jandakot, Bunbury, Manjimup and Albany;
- One small multi-purpose air attack helicopter based at Jandakot; and
- One aerial intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance helicopter based at Jandakot.
(2) Yes. One additional multi-purpose helicopter has been added to the high-readiness fleet for 2017-18 and a procurement is underway for the 2018-19 fire season.
(3) The viability of an aircraft stationed in Esperance is not yet determined. There was a trial conducted in 2016.
(4) Local governments may enter directly into service contracts with aerial water bombing providers at any time, except when DFES or DBCA have control of the incident.
(5) Through the State’s membership of the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, DFES has access to all aerial firefighting aircraft based in the eastern states including all additional helitaks, large air tankers and additional aerial intelligence gathering aircraft. I understand that the Honourable Member is also interested in the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ aerial firefighting fleet. In accordance with standing Order 109 (2) a, I will provide that information at the conclusion of question time.
HON STEPHEN DAWSON: Hon Colin de Grussa asked the same question of my agency. I seek to answer question without notice 398 from my agency’s perspective.
In accordance with Standing Order 109 (2) a, I would like to provide brief factual information to the Hon Mr De Grussa in regard to question without notice 398.
I am advised by the Department of Biodiversity Conservation and Attractions —
- The Department owns 10 Champion Scout aircraft that are used for both fire detection/observation purposes and supervision/coordination of aerial fire suppression aircraft. Over the bushfire season, four of these aircraft are allocated for air attack supervision roles and five aircraft are allocated by DBCA for aerial detection/observation for lands the department has management responsibility for across the south-west of the State. The tenth aircraft is used on a rotational basis to enable maintenance across both the suppression and detection fleets. Nominally, these aircraft are located as follows – two at Jandakot, two at Bunbury, four at Manjimup and two at Albany. Also DBCA (typically) contracts eight Air Tractor AT802F fixed wing single engine air tankers (SEATs), with these nominally being located as follows – two at Jandakot, two at Bunbury, two at Manjimup and two at Albany. One of the Squirrel light helicopters used for air attack supervision and based at Jandakot that I referred to previously is also contracted by DBCA. Some other aircraft are also contracted by DBCA under short-term arrangements primarily for prescribed burning purposes. These aircraft consist of two GA8 Airvans and two Squirrel light helicopters. One Airvan and one Squirrel is located at Derby and one Airvan and one Squirrel is located at Bunbury.
- (2)–(5) Are related to the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and therefore I provide no further information.