A new multipurpose Rural Fire Service (RFS) helicopter was unveiled at Coffs Harbour in New South Wales, Australia. The $6 million asset is fitted with advanced equipment, such as Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras, live video capabilities and winching equipment.
Steph Cooke, Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience, said: “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 bushfires, search and rescue missions and other emergency operations.
“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.”
Commissioner of the RFS, Rob Rogers, said the RFS has the largest aerial firefighting fleet in Australia. It includes 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,” 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.”
The helicopter was immediately dispatched to help with flood rescues in the Central West region of the state.
These flood rescues are not the first this year, with LifeFlight conducting many missions in March.