BUSHFIRES don’t pay any respect to borders or state lines.
That’s what the CFA and RFS have learned over the last 10 or so years of fighting catastrophic blazes in Victoria and NSW.
Based on that, Albury airport has become a significant staging area of sorts for airborne firefighting operations in both states.
RFS operations officer Patrick Westwood said the alliance between the two services was crucial for the safety of the community.
“There were a number of fires in NSW last week, we had the opportunity to get some assistance from the CFA with their aircraft,” he said.
“Having pre-positioned aircraft in Albury allows us to get a much quicker response.
“It’s really vital to us that we have this strong partnership here on the Border. We’re in the middle of fire season now, it ran through to April last year and we expect it will do the same this year.
“Having them at Albury is just one way we can ensure quicker response from the heavy aircraft that have become vital to our firefighting operations.”
Mr Westwood’s CFA counterpart Wayne Rigg said both agencies had learned from the past few bushfire seasons.
“Fires don’t discriminate for lines on a map or badges on shoulders,” he said.
“We’re pleased to be able to have part of our fleet in Albury.
“We can go back into Victoria or further north into NSW if need be.
“The benefit of having these types of aircraft is that you can move them to where the risk is.
“Regardless of what state the fire is in, we’re there to protect our communities and support our hardworking ground crews.
“Our aircraft don’t actually put the fires out.
“It’s the hardworking people on the ends of hoses, working on tankers, bulldozers and graders that we’re there to support. We say we work as one, and it’s true.
“When people in the community say they need help, it doesn’t matter to them whether they’re CFA, RFS, SES, DELWP or anyone else.
“Our fleet is ready to go, when they’re stationed in Albury they’re on 15 minutes call-out every day.”
Two large air tankers, two air cranes and three air attack supervision aircraft were stationed at the Albury airport last week in response to high fire danger ratings across NSW last week.
The deployment of Victorian resources to assist north of the border also included 20 CFA tankers, which were sent to Victorian stations bordering NSW to assist both states if needed.
Fire danger ratings for North East Victoria are tipped to fluctuate between high and very high this week.