Last month local firefighters expressed concern about plans to redeploy one of the three firefighting helicopters based at Ballarat, to Gippsland for the coming season, and the cut in hours to operate from 1pm to 9pm, meaning ground crews fighting fires before 1pm are unlikely to have water bombing aircraft available for support.

While the firebombing helicopter capability remains the same as last year, one supervision aircraft will be redeployed away from Ballarat.

Instead of one air attack supervision aircraft operating during the day and another at night, a single air attack supervision aircraft will provide both day and night capability this summer season.

“Emergency Management Victoria works closely with the emergency services sector to ensure appropriate strategic positioning of aircraft and other firefighting assets to keep Victorians safe,” said Emergency Management Commissioner Andrew Crisp.

“For the Ballarat area, these arrangements will enable firebombing aircraft to operate from early afternoon through until later into the night. Usual supporting arrangements from aircraft located in adjoining locations will continue.

“This capability will be supported by supervision aircraft. The firebombing helicopter at Ballarat for this year is the same aircraft as last year.”

The two aircraft based at Ballarat are among a record 51 aircraft that will take to the skies to help fight fires and help keep communities safe.

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