Four copters on fire alert for Ipswich

BOMBS AWAY: A Queensland Fire and Rescue helicopter releases its water load over bushland in Ripley as part of a training drill.
BOMBS AWAY: A Queensland Fire and Rescue helicopter releases its water load over bushland in Ripley as part of a training drill. Claudia Baxter

IPSWICH homes will have added protection during the coming bushfire season with four water bombing helicopters at the disposal of fire services to battle blazes.

Rural Fire Service Assistant Commissioner Neil Gallant announced a $6.1 million deal contracting the helicopters for the next three years.

The choppers have a capacity to hold nearly 2700 litres at a time, almost three times more than the aircraft available during the last fire season.

The choppers are based at Archerfield and cover a radius of 120km, reaching to the Toowoomba ranges and Cunningham's Gap.

Helicopter pilots performed training exercises in the Ripley Valley yesterday, ahead of what is expected to be a moderate fire season in West Moreton.

Mr Gallant said the rural and urban arms of the service were well equipped to respond to this year's bushfire season.

"These aircraft also have the capacity to source water while hovering over dams, or alternatively, they can utilise water from hose sources via portable collar tanks," he said.

"While in the air, the Bell 214Bs fly with a third aircraft, an AS355 Twin Squirrel Air Attack Platform helicopter, which is flown under the direction of an Air Attack Supervisor, who co-ordinates and advises the exact location of water drops for maximum effect," Queensland Fire and Rescue Service area director Corey Bock said.

"The message we need to send out this year is exercise precaution."

Mr Bock said after a wet winter the foliage is drying out and the Beaudesert area is most at risk of bushfires this summer.

The helicopters are only a 20 minute flight away and will be used if people's lives or homes are in danger or if a bushfire can be controlled from the air, Mr Bock said.



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