A new multi-purpose, firefighting helicopter has been announced for Tumut ahead of the 2021-22 bushfire season.
The Rural Fire Service (RFS) aircraft was announced by Premier Dominic Perrottet on Monday, alongside Deputy Premier Paul Toole and Emergency Services minister David Elliott, with two additional helicopters announced for Dubbo and Coffs Harbour.
Mr Elliott said the helicopters had been chosen for these locations to "allow for rapid deployment regionally during the bush fire season", having been re-deployed from the city to the bush.
"The RFS aviation capability has grown over recent years and is now the biggest firefighting aviation fleet in the country," he added.
Mr Elliott said that the helicopters won't just be made available to the RFS but for all emergency services.
Mr Toole added, "Whether it's search and rescue, whether it's vehicle accidents, whether it's fire incidents ... it's important that we have these resources in regional NSW."
RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said the "strategic placement" of the aviation fleet across three regional locations is important.
"These aircraft will provide additional reassurance for regional NSW communities," he said.
"It will not only support the NSW RFS during firefighting operations, but also provide other regional emergency services with real time high definition video streams and assist in search and rescue missions."
The helicopter announcement comes as Tumut Airport was last year allocated $12.5 million in government funding for upgrades, including the installation of precision path indicators to help facilitate firefighting capabilities.
The funding will also be put towards upgrading the runway, with firefighting aircraft unable to fill their tanks fully during the 2019-20 bushfire season, which saw the Dunns Road fire burn over 180,000 hectares.
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Along with the helicopter fleet, an RFS Aviation Centre of Excellence has also been announced for Dubbo - which Mr Toole said is part of the state government's response to recommendations of the NSW Bushfire Inquiry.
Construction of the new $5.6 million facility will commence in early 2022, providing "a significant boost to the RFS emergency response capabilities", Mr Perrottet said.
"The Aviation Centre of Excellence will house four state-of-the-art aviation simulators as well as two dedicated training spaces, 27 accommodation rooms and other amenities," he said.
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