The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) unveiled its aerial firefighting fleet on October 23 at RAAF Base Richmond, where it will continue to operate from. 

During the event, the NSW Minister for Emergency Services, David Elliott, thanked the base for its continued support.

“The RAAF has been first class in hosting us,” Mr Elliott said.

“Regardless of the emergency, Air Force has been willing to assist our agencies.”

Senior ADF Officer for RAAF Base Richmond Air Commodore Carl Newman said he was proud the fire service would continue to operate from the base.

“In every bushfire season since 2015, RAAF Base Richmond has demonstrated consistent firsthand support to NSW RFS aerial firefighting,” Air Commodore Newman said.

“The airbase support we provide – everything from air traffic control, emergency services, refuelling and even infrastructure – is essential to keeping them in the fight.”

The NSW RFS fleet includes the Cessna Citation observer aircraft and Boeing 737 Large Air Tanker, which can carry more than 15,000 litres of retardant and was extensively used during last year’s bushfire season.

Both of these aircraft are permanently based at RAAF Base Richmond, where they can reach bushfire-affected parts of NSW within an hour.

Other additional aircraft include the BK 117 and Bell 412 rescue helicopters, which are able to use the base for refuelling during operations. 

During last year’s high-risk weather season, RAAF Base Richmond supported the Boeing 737, as well as RJ85, C-130, and DC-10 air tanker aircraft conducting firefighting missions.

Resident units remain prepared to support NSW RFS and other interstate emergency services during the 2020/21 fire season. 

“Using the last bushfire season as an example, RAAF Base Richmond provided the airbase support necessary to enable RFS aerial firefighting, while also transporting volunteer firefighters and their equipment from interstate, and accommodated them on the base as they supported local agencies,” Air Commodore Newman said.

“We also used airfield firefighting to support deployed NSW RFS heli-bases, and contributed airfield engineering to the recovery efforts.

“There are a host of roles and capabilities at this base that are ready, should NSW RFS, or any emergency service organisation, require assistance from Defence to provide effective aid to the civil community should it be needed.”

Video of the unveiling can be seen at: https://youtu.be/s8313lGxmEY