Hang on, help is on its way

Calder fires, 2016. Picture: Grant WellsIN OUR time of need, interstate help is on its way to Tasmania.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is in the process of deploying 132 personnel, 30 vehicles and two BK117 winch helicopters to assist the Tasmania Fire Service in the battle against the state’s blazes.

NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said 100 of the personnel were remote-area firefighting specialists, trained and equipped for remote-area deployment.

“We have been over to Tassie plenty of times over the years and we are happy to help,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

Vehicles and trailers made their way across Bass Strait on Friday night, with more to come on Saturday.

Mr Fitzsimmons said the RFS would bring its own resources across to ease the burden on the TFS.

“It makes it a lot easier,” Mr Fitzsimmons said.

“We can make sure we are bolstering numbers and not drawing down on the local equipment,” he said.

HELPING OUT: NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, Shane Fitzsimmons.

The vehicles the RFS are bringing to Tasmania are not fire trucks, but rather remote-area specialist vehicles.

Mr Fitzsimmons said the bulk of personnel would fly into Launceston in two groups on Saturday and Sunday for deployment on the day after their arrival.

Incident management specialists, incident controllers and fire behaviour specialists will also arrive on Sunday.

The two BK117 helicopters flew across the Bass Strait, via Flinders Island on Friday and would be fitted with Tasmanian radios by engineers to ensure “optimised compatibility”.

“All the training of paid and volunteer personnel is to a national and international standard, so they are trained and equipped to seamlessly integrate,” he said.

“They know the language, equipment and techniques,” he said.

CFA Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley said that while NSW would provide the bulk of resources, Victoria would coordinate the national response rather than send firefighting resources.

About nine strategic planning specialists from Victoria will help coordinate the deployment.

Police and Emergency Management Minister Rene Hidding extended his gratitude to the “great many people” working to keep the community safe.

Originally published asNSW crews in Tassie today by The Advocate.

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