Two Kununurra sandalwood companies have combined forces to fund a helicopter fire fighting exercise for the purposes of training and demonstration.
Tropical Forestry Services (TFS) and Santanol, in conjunction with HeliSpirit and the Sandalwood Sanctuary, completed the exercise on Thursday last week with great success.
The purpose of the exercise was to test rapid response capability and provide a training opportunity for company staff. The Shire of Wyndham East Kimberley was supportive of the exercise and provided a fire permit for the day.
Brendon Carr, WA Regional Manager for TFS, stated that “this is another great tool for the TFS fire emergency response team and [he] will be keen to see more combined high level training continue into the future with additional stakeholders involved.”
The exercise took place on vacant grassland adjacent to Ivanhoe Road, Kununurra. A crew composed of highly trained personnel from each company provided rapid ground response while a HeliSpirit helicopter provided aerial support in the form of helicopter water bombing.
Pilot in Command, Howard James, stated that he was “impressed with the clear, precise and professional coordination of the ground crew” and felt that “the exercise was a great success.”
All parties involved felt that the exercise was very worthwhile and demonstrated how an aerial attack can be utilised to support and compliment a traditional ground based response.
Sandalwood plantations currently account for the largest area of irrigated country in the Ord Valley for any one crop. As a result the sandalwood is responsible for a significant component of the gross domestic product of the region and it is therefore critical that these resources can be safeguarded against the threat of fire.
Dan Raymond, Forestry Operations Manager of Santanol, said that it was a “seamless display of how organisations can work together for the protection of a valuable asset.”
A second exercise is planned for early next year with additional stakeholders to be invited to join the collaboration.
HeliSpirit is skilled in Helicopter fire fighting and additionally provides helicopter emergency services for fire rescue, flood support and search and rescue. Read more about our capabilities HERE. To book our services or to request a free Quote please call our operations team on 08 9168 1101.