Remote area firies poised for flight

TAMWORTH firefighters had a little help from above if they needed it yesterday with a visit from a rapid aerial response team (RART).

The helicopter has winch capabilities as well as a tank underneath and carries a large bucket for water bombing fires in remote areas.

It was based at Tamworth Regional Airport yesterday and left in the afternoon, but will return on Saturday and remain in the city all weekend.

NSW Rural Fire Service acting operations officer for the remote area firefighting team and RART dispatcher Simon Topp said the aircraft could winch firefighters into remote areas up to 300 feet, which was particularly useful in times of lightning strikes that tended to cause fires in more remote areas not accessible by trucks.

The four-man crew is composed of volunteers from the New England and Tamworth areas, specially trained to fight fires in remote areas.

They undergo regular fitness tests and medicals and winching recertification every 14 months.

The helicopter came to Tamworth from Wyong and was brought to the region because of the forecast weather and the chance of remote fires.

The aircraft can service areas within a 30-minute flight of wherever it is based.

This takes in about  a 100km radius and the craft can be airborne within 10 minutes. 

When in Tamworth, it can attend fires in the Tamworth, New England, Liverpool Range fire districts as well as parts of the Northern Tablelands, Hastings, Manning and Gloucester and the northern Hunter Valley areas.

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