This year's Western Australia high-risk weather season resulted in a series of bushfires across the state, with No. 25 Squadron ably supporting the aerial firefighting response.
Both RAAF Base Pearce and Learmonth were called upon to project air power in support of firefighting capabilities.
Commanding Officer of No. 25 Squadron, Wing Commander Paul Taylor, praised unit personnel who laid the ground work for Western Australia government departments to operate their water-bombing aircraft effectively from the two bases.
“The No. 25 Squadron and Security and Estate Group teams at Pearce and Learmonth are keenly aware of the positive role Defence can play in supporting state and federal government efforts during the high-risk weather season,” Wing Commander Taylor said.
In February, RAAF Base Pearce provided space for the Departments of Fire and Emergency Services to establish a fire-retardant plant to support their large aerial tankers as part of civil use and Defence Assistance Civil Community requests.
The plant was operational in the nick of time, as a bushfire broke out the same day that the plant became active. The reduced turnaround time for the aerial firefighting efforts undoubtedly helping to save homes and properties in the process.
Department of Fire and Emergency Services executives expressed their appreciation for the support from Defence. Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters said support from Air Force was critical during the high-risk weather season.
“The relationship between the Departments of Fire and Emergency Services and Air Force has continued to strengthen and grow over the years,” Mr Waters said.
Some 1200km north, and only a few weeks later, uncontrolled bushfires took hold in Cape Range National Park near Exmouth in the state's far north.
Two Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions firefighting aircraft were deployed at short notice to RAAF Base Learmonth to assist in containing the fires.
The challenge of supporting these aircraft highlighted the versatility and self-sufficiency required by the teams operating at forward operating bases.
Exmouth Shire President Darlene Allston recognised the efforts of the team at Learmonth.
“We greatly appreciate the contribution of the Air Force No. 25 Squadron for the hours spent working alongside the team at Parks and Wildlife Services to contain the recent fires at Cape Range National Park,” Ms Allston said.
“The Air Force team, and all of our emergency crews, worked around the clock to protect Exmouth and assist in preserving our pristine national environment.”
The experience garnered this season by the teams at RAAF Bases Pearce and Learmonth is sure to assist No. 25 Squadron support fire-fighting operations in the future.