Gypsy Lady and Southern Belle ready to protect NSW

Issued: 01 October 2015

Erikson Air Crane 'Gypsy Lady' and 'Southern Belle', a DC 10 Very Large Air Tanker have joined 'Thor' the Hercules C130 Large Air Tanker in Sydney for the 2015/16 bushfire season.

"'Southern Belle' and 'Thor' are part of the NSW Government's $9.8 million commitment to trial the use of these aircraft for the first time during this bushfire season," Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott said.

"These specialised aircraft can drop up to 44,000 litres of water or fire retardant, and will be used to assist firefighters on the ground by directly attacking bush and grass fires.

"When you consider the normal bucket-load carried by a water bombing helicopter is around 1,500 litres and an Air Crane with up to a 9,000-litre dropping capacity, the potential impact of these impressive firefighting planes is incredible."

On the first day of the official Bush Fire Danger Period, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons reminded the community of the weather outlook.

"With a confirmed El-Nino weather pattern in place, we are prepared for what could be a difficult fire season. Despite the imposing firefighting capacity of these aircraft and the commitment of our firefighters, people should not be complacent when it comes to bushfire."

Fire & Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Jim Smith stressed that having a well-prepared property is crucial when it comes to reducing the risk of devastation from bushfire.

"Firefighters work closely with their communities to help keep them safe, however people need to do their part by being informed and prepared," Deputy Commissioner Smith said.

The Australian Government jointly funds the Air Crane Gypsy Lady and contributes more than $14 million per annum to the cost of making firefighting aircraft available to the states and territories, through the National Aerial Firefighting Arrangements established in 2003.

"By pooling our resources, governments in all jurisdictions get very good aerial firefighting capability and value for money," Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne said.

"Being on the ground during the relief operation in the aftermath of the Blue Mountains bushfires in late 2013 showed me just how important these resources are."

'Southern Belle', 'Gypsy Lady' and 'Thor' complement more than 100 aircraft already contracted to support firefighting operations across NSW this bushfire season. The aircraft will be deployed across the state and interstate as necessary from Bankstown Airport.