Friday, June 21, 2024

$8m one-of-a-kind aerial firefighting centre opens in Dubbo

NSW Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib, has officially opened the new $8.3 million NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Aviation Centre of Excellence in Dubbo today.

The Minister said the opening of the facility was a significant milestone at the start of what is expected to be a hot and challenging summer.

The facility is the first of its kind in Australia and will be a base for specialist aerial firefighting personnel to train and prepare for responding to emergencies, such as bush and grass fires.

“The NSW Government is committed to supporting the RFS with the tools and resources it needs to protect our communities from the ever-present threat of bush and grass fires,” said Mr Dib.

“Around the world, aviation resources are playing an increasingly important role in firefighting efforts and new technologies are helping improve the way we target fires, so upskilling in this area is essential.

“This new centre, including virtual reality simulators will boost RFS training and preparation for emergencies so it remains at the forefront of aerial firefighting innovation and response.”

Located next to the RFS State Training Academy near Dubbo Regional Airport, the Aviation Centre is home to four aerial training simulators for personnel to hone their skills in a controlled helicopter, fixed-wing and winching environment.

The facility will focus on training firefighting aircrews for skills including winching into firegrounds, mapping fire fronts to better target fires and air operations in difficult bushfire conditions.

The facilities use the latest technology including virtual reality simulators to recreate realistic scenarios faced in recent fires to help aircrews respond across a variety of aircraft.

“This is a game-changer for our personnel, providing an invaluable platform for training and refining skills critical to aerial firefighting, contributing to the overall readiness of the Service,” RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers, said.

“The aviation simulators at the Centre provide the RFS with the ability to safely train and develop skills that may be too unsafe to test in a real-world bush fire environment.

“These programs expand the experience and skills of our highly trained personnel and further increases the protection of residents across the state.”

The two-storey facility has training and meeting rooms and two auditoriums, as well as 27 lodging rooms, laundry, lounge and workspaces to accommodate RFS aviation personnel and those from partner emergency service agencies across the state.

This year, the NSW Government invested $9 million in building the RFS’s aerial firefighting capacity with a new Chinook helicopter, the first of its kind to be permanently based in Australia.

The centre is part of the NSW Government’s response to the recommendations of the independent NSW Bushfire Inquiry.

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