A Large Air Tanker will be based in Busselton to support aerial firefighting ahead of the coming bushfire season.

Western Australia was funded to have a tanker late last season in response to the Black Summer bushfires, but it had been a resource that had been requested for several years prior.

The LAT will be based in Busselton for the first time so it can have quick access to bushfires throughout the South-West where the nearby difficult-to-reach terrain is most suited to the aircraft.

It can also be deployed throughout other parts of WA if required.

The LAT can drop water, retardant and foam, and carry five times more than fixed-wing water bombers.

In addition to the LAT, the McGowan Government has contracted a line scanner aircraft for a much longer period of time than previously.

The new contract will enable emergency services to map a fire and other hazards such as floods over 330 days rather than 90 days.

The line scanner works in just minutes and provides real-time data back to incident controllers to assist them in deploying resources and keeping the community informed.

The biggest water bombing helicopter in the fleet, the Erickson Aircrane, nicknamed Georgia Peach, also comes online this weekend after returning to WA from fighting fires in Greece.

The 2020/21 WA aerial fleet consists of 35 aircraft with aerial intelligence and water bombing capabilities.

The fleet is managed by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services and the Parks and Wildlife Service at the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions and is jointly funded by the State and Federal Governments through the National Aerial Firefighting Centre.

Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said they were very proud to have the Large Air Tanker join the state’s aerial fleet as a resource this bushfire season following many years of fighting for WA’s fair share of Federal funding support.

“We only had the tanker late last season in response to the Black Summer bushfires so I would like to acknowledge and thank the Federal Government for accepting the fact that our State needs a LAT as part of its fleet,” he said.

“The LAT will be a significant asset for fire suppression and containment in areas difficult for firefighters to access on foot. We saw this last year when the LAT assisted in bringing a bushfire threatening Collie quickly under control.

Read more on this story at the Busselton Mail