Supporting Aerial Firefighting
A number of brigades around the state are specifically trained in the equipment to support the aerial bombers contracted to the CFS. These brigades carry the mixing plants and equipment necessary to refill the bombers in the shortest time possible.
Brigades also carry fuel for the aircraft, and can setup at any airstrip utilised by the bombers. Brigades also carry large stocks of firefighting foam or retardant that can be used in the fight against a fire.
Firefighting foam in drums and retardant in bags will be transported to the airstrip by logistics vehicles or specialist Air Support appliances, and the mixing plant set up near the plane take off point, and readied for use.
Large quantities of water are needed to support the bombers. Some airbases have large volume tanks on site, while others are supplied by CFS (and other) water tankers. Floating collar dams are used as a static water source which is replenished regularly by tankers, who fill up elsewhere, and transport the water to the airstrip. Some areas have converted tankers which provide 30,000 litres of water.
A fire bomber can land, be refilled with 3,000 litres of water mixed with firefighting foam or retardant, and take off again within 5 minutes.
The CFS currently contracts a number of 'Air tractors' during the fire season which are based at strategic sites around the state. These airstrips include Brukunga (Claremont Airbase), Cherry Gardens, Second Valley, Mt Crawford, Hoyleton, Naracoorte, Mount Gambier and Port Lincoln. However, in the event of a fire, the bombers can move to any other flat area!
Photographs on this page taken by Seaford CFS and Jeff Bowey