26 September 2023

Aircraft hit the air to test bushfire skills

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The SA Country Fire Service (CFS) has alerted residents in Port Pirie they might note extra aircraft in the region in the next week or so as the Service takes to the air to prepare for the upcoming bushfire season.

Planning a range of aviation exercises as part of its annual preparations for the heated season, the CFS will be conducting exercises next Friday, 30 September between 9am and 5pm out of the Port Pirie Aerodrome.

According to CFS’s Manager of State Aviation Operations, Nik Stanley, residents within the Port Pirie and surrounding areas should not be alarmed by the presence of the aircraft even though it will be exercising with a Blackhawk helicopter, two fixed wing firebombing aircraft and two surveillance aircraft, all conducting up 10 flights a day.

“Approximately 80 CFS and DEW Air Operations personnel, including staff, volunteers and contractors, will complete the training program which gives them practical skills in the control and coordination of firebombing aircraft,” Mr Stanley said.

“This is the first year we have been able to integrate the new Blackhawk helicopters into our training, and air operations personnel will be refining their skills in the collection of intelligence, aerial mapping of fires, and ground-to-air tactical communication,” he said.

He said the community may notice an increase in aircraft activity in the training areas as smoke canisters will be used to simulate bushfire smoke during the exercises.

“Locals can be assured that we will have ground crews in attendance with fire extinguishing resources, in the event they are required,” Mr Stanley said.

“If residents see aerial firefighting and surveillance aircraft operating in and around the Port Pirie area, including Telowie Gorge and Wirrabara Range Conservation Parks, they should not be concerned,” he said.

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