One of the most valuable tools in the state’s firefighting arsenal is back in Queensland and ready to fight blazes – just in time for bushfire season.
As part of a joint partnership struck with the Victorian Government last month, the Palaszczuk Government locked in the future of the Large Aerial Tanker (LAT) firefighting aircraft for the next four bushfire seasons.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk today announced the LAT and its crew had arrived in Bundaberg, completed quarantine and were ready to get to work.
“The Large Air Tanker is an important weapon in our firefighting arsenal,” the Premier said.
“I’m proud to say it’s arrived in Queensland and the crew are ready to fight fires.
“If they need it, our firefighters will be able to call on the LAT at any time of the day or night.
“This should be greatly reassuring to Queenslanders who know the devastating impact that fires can have on our state.
“Right around the world, we’re seeing our climate changing. The threat of bushfires is increasing.
“We’ll continue to invest in the technology and the firefighters to keep our state safe.”
The LAT will be based in Bundaberg for Queensland’s bushfire season before being sent to Victoria for its fire season, which coincides with Queensland’s wet season.
Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Ryan said the LAT was a terrific resource.
Mr Ryan said the arrival of the LAT – a Bombardier Dash-8 Q400AT – signalled the start of a co-sharing arrangement with Victoria that would see the air tanker stay in Australia all year round for the next four years.
“This LAT will spend the next four bushfire seasons with us to help frontline firefighting crews who work to keep Queensland communities safe,” Mr Ryan said.
“The sight of it in the sky during fire emergencies will provide reassurance to responding crews as well as communities who potentially find themselves in harm’s way.”
Member for Bundaberg Tom Smith said he was proud to have the LAT call Bundy home.
“Bushfires remain a constant threat to our community. By investing in the cutting-edge technology that our firies need, we’re putting a down payment on the safety of our community,” he said.
“Having the LAT based in Bundaberg is great for our city and something I’m passionate about.
“Centrally located, Bundaberg has a great natural advantage as a firefighting hub with good access to all corners of the state.
“I’ll continue to advocate to keep the LAT based in Bundaberg into the future.”
Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) Commissioner Greg Leach said the LAT would be a valuable addition to the 150 call-when-needed planes and helicopters the state already had at its disposal.
“Aerial firefighting is an important tool in our overall approach to bushfire response,” Mr Leach said.
“It ensures valuable support for our hardworking crews on the firefront and means we can attack fires from multiple angles.”
Mr Leach said the LAT would play a strategic role in the fight against bushfires.
“Its role is to waterbomb ahead of a blaze to put in fire breaks that slow the progress of a bushfire,” Mr Leach said.
“It complements our other aircraft, which all have different jobs, such as waterbombing or mapping, during fire responses.
“Having these different options gives us a world-class firefighting arsenal and ensures our firefighters are provided with some of the best tools available.
“I also want to take this opportunity to welcome the LAT’s specially trained crew to Queensland and thank them for their commitment and support going forward.”