The Department of Fire and Emergency Services manage contracted aircraft and other aviation services to support emergency management and incident response across the State.
DFES also manages the RAC Rescue Helicopter network, the State’s only dedicated emergency rescue helicopter. The service provides vital, all-hazards search and rescue services with critical care aeromedical capabilities 24 hours a day, every day of the year.
DFES operates a sophisticated aerial fleet to respond to fire and other emergency incidents, supporting firefighters and incident managers on the ground to protect lives, property, and the environment throughout Western Australia’s bushfire season.
DFES deploys Helitaks (aerial fire suppression helicopters) when public safety or assets are considered at imminent risk, when fire-fighting crews are in immediate danger, during extreme fire behaviour, or when high fuel loads are likely to accelerate the spread of a bushfire.
Since their introduction in 2002, Helitaks have proved to be a versatile, powerful, and efficient aerial resource for firefighters in their efforts to save lives and homes. DFES’ utility helicopter and Helitaks support operations and transport personnel, food, water and fuel to isolated communities during significant natural disasters, such as flooding.
During a significant bushfire, DFES will call on additional fixed-wing bombers from The Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA).
These aircraft assist DFES in containing large bushfires and support the ground crews and helicopter fleet. They are capable of carrying and dropping up to 3,200 litres of water.
Air Intelligence aircraft assists our Incident Management Teams with critical, strategic decision making by providing real-time incident information and intelligence, including an uninterrupted, live-streaming view of the incident. Highly trained firefighters provide situational awareness and assessments on the potential impacts to the community and critical infrastructure.
The Line Scanner can be used to establish and maintain strategic situational awareness, fire detection, disaster planning and management, and fire and flood mapping operations. The aircraft is fitted with a range of sensitive thermal and visual sensors, and a broadband satellite data communication system which enables rapid transfer of data from the aircraft to users on the ground.
Line Scanners create thermal mapping images (pictured left) which provides detail on fire front locations and maps the extent of the affected area. The Line Scanner works in conjunction with other firefighting aircraft to support ground firefighting crews.
The Large Air Tanker (LAT) can be utilised for both initial attack and retardant line building to support ground crews. The LAT is accompanied by a delegated fixed-wing air attack platform and Air Attack Supervisor. Its flexibility enables the LAT to work in both the urban interface and remote areas such as parks and forests.
Operating around the clock, every day of the year, RAC Rescue provides vital, all-hazards rescue support services for the public.
The mission of the service is to save lives and support all-hazards emergency operations by rapidly deploying and inserting the rescue capabilities of the aircraft and its personnel directly into an incident. If required, the RAC Rescue Helicopter can transport the rescued directly from the incident scene to the appropriate medical facility. The helicopters are equipped with state-of-the-art rescue aeromedical equipment and provide a vital emergency link for people in Western Australia.