The Royal Australian Air Force has made a second delivery of fire retardant powder to Western Australia to support firefighting efforts in the state.
CAPTION: Air Force personnel unload fire retardant from a C-130J Hercules at Busselton Margaret River Airport in Western Australia. Photo by Leading Seaman Richard Cordell. Story by Eamon Hamilton.
Fifty tonnes of the vital firefighting resource were delivered in two aircraft to Busselton Margaret River Airport for use by the Western Australian Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
A C-130J Hercules from No. 37 Squadron left RAAF Base Richmond on 4 February with 15.6 tonnes of the fire retardant, carried in 16 bags.
Additional Hercules flights delivered fire retardant from Richmond to RAAF Base Amberley, and those bags were flown to Western Australia in a C-17A Globemaster.
A mobile air load team from RAAF Base Pearce’s No. 25 Squadron travelled 265 kilometres to unload the aircraft at Busselton, and Army’s 13 Brigade provided the machinery.
The NSW Rural Fire Service – which keeps a supply of powder at RAAF Base Richmond, where their large air tanker fleet is based – provided the fire retardant.
This latest delivery followed the January 10 delivery of 50 bags of fire retardant in a C-17A.
Senior operations officer at the Air Mobility Control Centre Squadron Leader Douglas Jeffery said delivering fire retardant across Australia required special planning considerations.
“There was an urgent requirement to deliver fire retardant as soon as possible so that it could be mixed and used to support ongoing firefighting operations,” he said.
“We also needed to plan the move so that it minimised the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which led us to use fewer aircraft to deliver the fire retardant into Busselton Margaret River.”
Using two RAAF aircraft to complete the delivery also reduced the pressure on services at the Western Australian airport.
In other support, the ADF is providing ground transport for civilian firefighters from a staging area at the firefront and RAAF Base Pearce is supporting water bomber operations.