FOLLOWING a trial of the Mid North Primary Response Zone earlier this season, an additional fleet of CFS aircraft will be sought after when the state’s aerial firefighting contracts ends this year.
The proposal consists of seven new aircraft, four of which would make up the new Mid North base, which is yet to be determined by the CFS.
The additional seven aircraft, consisting of two fixed-wing bombers and two helicopters based in the Mid North, will enable CFS aerial support to respond within minutes to fire outbreaks in the region.
An extra two helicopters will be based in the Lower South East and Lower Eyre Peninsula, as well as a high speed Intelligence Strategic Resource aircraft to provide statewide fire mapping intelligence to the community and aid operations during the day or night.
SA presently has 17 aerial firefighting resources, including fixed wing bombers, air observing platforms and a Heli tanker.
The CFS currently has three Primary Response Zones, including the Lower EP, Mount Lofty Ranges and Lower SE.
Emergency Services Minister Chris Picton said aerial firefighting aircraft and systems continued to develop, and this funding would ensure SA had access to the latest technology and resources to protect the community.
“Based on a number of previous fires in the Mid North region, we have listened to advice from the CFS that an additional fleet would be a valuable asset to strengthen protection,” he said.
SA CFS chief officer Greg Nettleton said aerial firefighting had a major role in providing information to the community.
“A trial of the Mid North Primary REsponse Zone was conducted earlier this season when the risk of farming fires was high,” he said.
“Being close to the fire and dispatched within minutes, aircraft could bomb the fires in the early stages, allowing fire crews to extinguish it."
It is expected the new fleet would be ready for next summer.