17-Nov-2022 Source: NSW Rural Fire Service
Communities on the Mid North Coast are better protected thanks to a new multi-purpose Rural Fire Service (RFS) helicopter unveiled at Coffs Harbour.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the $6 million asset is fitted with state-of-the-art equipment including Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras, live video capabilities and winching equipment.
“This is the first time we have permanently based a helicopter at Coffs Harbour, representing a significant boost to the capability of our emergency service personnel during bush fires, search and rescue missions and other emergency operations,” Ms Cooke said.
“The RFS responds to a wide range of natural disasters and other hazards, so having this helicopter positioned and ready for action will keep our communities safer and stronger.”
Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh joined RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers at the Coffs Harbour helicopter base today to officially welcome the new asset.
“Today’s announcement delivers on the NSW Government’s commitment made in November 2021 to improve aerial resources in regional NSW,” Mr Singh said.
“Our communities have faced many natural disasters in recent years so it’s fantastic that this aircraft will not only support our RFS volunteers and staff during their firefighting operations, but also assist other agencies responding to storms and floods.”
Commissioner Rogers said the RFS has the largest aerial firefighting fleet in Australia, including a 737 Large Air Tanker, two Citation aircraft and six helicopters.
“The strategic placement of the RFS aviation fleet is particularly important. Basing helicopters in Coffs Harbour, Dubbo and Tumut provides additional support for regional, rural and remote communities,” Commissioner Rogers said.
“In any emergency time is of the essence, and this aircraft is well-positioned in Coffs Harbour for rapid response to support multi-agency emergency response in this part of the State.”
Following this morning’s event, the helicopter was immediately dispatched to the State’s Central West to assist with flood rescues.