Large air tanker 'Thor' gets extra air time

Issued: 25 November 2015

Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott today announced the Hercules C130 Large Air Tanker Thor is to remain in NSW until mid-January, based on predictions of a challenging bushfire season.

The NSW Government has extended Thor's contract for an additional six weeks, complementing the DC 10 Very Large Air Tanker Southern Belle to assist firefighters directly attack bush and grass fires.

"The NSW Government is supporting the record number of RFS volunteers with the best available resources to protect the community," Mr Elliott said.

Mr Elliott made the announcement with NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, Member for Holsworthy Melanie Gibbons and Member for Heathcote Lee Evans at the new $1.4 million joint-funded Menai Rural Fire Station.

"The Bureau of Meteorology predicts that El Niño will present hotter and drier than average conditions in NSW and it is reassuring to have these aircraft at our disposal, at least until the end of January when their need will be reassessed," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

Mr Elliott inspected some of the 112 new fire trucks being rolled out to frontline firefighters this financial year. A further 27 refurbished vehicles, 32 logistics and operational support vehicles, three state-of-the-art fire control centres, and 42 station upgrades or new stations are also being progressively delivered, ensuring communities are protected better than ever before.

The station upgrades, vehicles and the trial of Thor and Southern Belle are part of a record $314 million allocation to the Rural Fire Fighting Fund in the 2015/16 Budget.

Ms Gibbons said the local community will benefit from the new truck for the Sandy Point brigade as well as early work on a new station this year.

"There have been four major bushfires in this community the past two decades and we understand the importance of equipping our firefighters with state-of-the-art resources," Ms Gibbons said.

Mr Evans said Sutherland fire control centre will receive a communications upgrade, Waterfall fire station will be extended, Maianbar brigade will get a new fire truck, and there will be a new logistics vehicle for the Engadine brigade.