New chopper to boost national parks bushfire response
The National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) has welcomed the timely arrival of a new state-of-the-art helicopter to boost its capacity and help frontline firefighters prepare for and defend against bushfires.
The new Airbus H125 helicopter, with its customised avionics, winch, radios and other specialised operational and safety equipment, joins four similar machines operated by the NPWS air wing known as ParkAir.
Environment Minister Matt Kean said the $5.6 million aircraft is yet another demonstration of the Government's response to the NSW Bushfire Inquiry by increasing NPWS' capacity to manage hazard reduction activities and bushfire response.
"We have increased the firefighting capacity of NPWS to record levels and this aircraft will be critical in supporting those frontline NPWS staff to keep us safe and manage an ever increasing Parks network," Mr Kean said.
"It is critical NPWS has all of the tools it needs to adequately manage the parks estate and an elevated risk of bushfire."
NPWS recently recruited and trained an additional 125 frontline firefighters, creating a dedicated Bushfire Risk and Evaluation Unit and improved its fleet safety with emergency defibrillators.
The helicopter will also be used to support hazard reduction burns, which, over the eight years prior to the 2019–20 fires, NPWS conducted around 79% of all hazard reduction burning in New South Wales, often in collaboration with the NSW Rural Fire Service and other agencies.
Other applications for this new helicopter include, pest management, baiting and weed spraying, wildlife surveys and observation and construction work.