EMERGENCY Management Victoria is this week conducting a night firebombing trial across the Whittlesea, Humevale, Kinglake West, Arthurs Creek, Doreen and Strathewen areas.

Residents might have seen or heard two helicopters in the area as part of training to familiarise personnel with the aircraft and and build on safety skills using night-vision equipment.

“Residents in Whittlesea, Humevale, Kinglake West, Arthurs Creek, Doreen and Strathewen may see or hear helicopters working in and around their communities this week as part of Victoria’s night firebombing trial. Safety of all staff and crew working in and around these aircraft is our highest priority,” an Emergency Management Victorian spokesperson said.

“Night firebombing is complex, requiring all staff and crew to undertake additional safety training and the appropriate certification before undertaking night operations.

“Safety is and will always be our highest priority and will never be compromised under any circumstances.”

Night firebombing capabilities mean that at dusk, and the immediate hours after when weather conditions may ease, aerial water bombings will be able to further assist the work of ground crew.

An extra hour or two of assistance from aerial water bombings can be the difference between bringing a fire under control or not.

Victoria has trialled night firebombing operations during the high-risk weather season for the past four years, but still remains a trial due to the complex nature of the procedure.Prior to the commencement of the trial in 2017-18, night firebombing capability did not exist anywhere in Australia.

Victoria remains as the only state undertaking trials, sharing what the crews learn with other states to improve their night operations.

A Chinook helicopter is one of the two helicopters being used during training.

The Chinook has an inbuilt tank and is one of 50 aircraft available to Victoria for the high-risk weather season. It can hold up to 11,000 litres of water and is the highest volume helicopter in the Victorian aviation fleet.

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