Bushfires are a blight on Australia’s rural communities and are now increasingly threatening city limits, Sydney being recently headlined when in 2013 New South Wales experienced a series of bushfires which swept through an area of 290,000 acres, destroyed 248 buildings and cost A$94 million.South Australia is no stranger to this phenomenon either and bushfires are well documented to be worsening in the State, according to Australia’s Bureau of Meteorology. Since early 2015, soaring temperatures and high winds have stoked the bushfires across South Australia with more than 30 homes being destroyed including 2,000 hectares of the Barossa Valley causing damage to several wineries in the Adelaide Hills behind the State Capital. No-one can forget the Ash Wednesday bushfires in 1983, which left 75 dead.
Aerial firefighting is a powerful weapon in the bushfire-extinguishing arsenal which can, when deployed correctly, stop wildfires in their tracks. Large air tankers, SEAT and helicopters can drop water on the fire front and, in cooperation with ground fire-crews providing controlled back-burning, prove to be a tried and tested solution.
Reduction of bushfires in the future is unlikely and so it is important to maintain connection with the worlds’ aerial firefighting community to remain current and capable. There are many different aerial firefighting solutions in existence, with new techniques and technologies entering the arena every year. It was in 2011 when Australia last connected with the international aerial firefighting community and its technologies which took place in Melbourne.
The Aerial Firefighting Asia Pacific 2016 conference will address how government organisations and emergency services can challenge and support the aviation industry to begin a journey of continuous improvement and partnership, so that the Australian firefighting community can improve efficiency and dramatically reduce the risks associated with aerial firefighting.
Aerial Firefighting in the ASEAN Region
A target for this event is to attract the smog-affected ASEAN countries, especially Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore as well as Thailand, Brunei and Vietnam who are also seriously affected by the slash and burn effects of their forests in their region.
ASEAN countries are expected to allocate up to US$10 billion to cope with unending forest fires in areas such as Sumatra and Kalimantan in Indonesia, which is estimated to suffer US$4 billion in losses in 2015 alone from wildfire effects on agriculture production, destruction of forest lands, health, transportation and tourism.
Future opportunities for joint ventures and foreign contracts in aerial firefighting are thus likely to require global support and assistance going forward.