Counting on the legend of Ichabod for bushfire season
Published Date: 14 Oct 2014
Air-crane water bombing helicopter Ichabod arrived at Penrith's Sydney International Regatta Centre one month early on Friday, to be put through its operational readiness checks for the bushfire season.
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By Isabell Petrinic
Onlookers saw Ichabod collect water, using a snorkel, and do a water drop.
"The helicopters can't pick up saltwater [because] it destroys the engine,'' said Keith Mackay, Superintendent at NSW Rural Fire Service.
Having passed its checks, Ichabod can now be deployed across NSW from its base in Bankstown and will be joined shortly by its sister
air-crane, Gypsy Lady.
"They are on a 15-minute call-out," Superintendent Mackay said.
He said the RFS considers "What's the fire's potential?" before deploying helicopters to fires.
Each air-crane is named by the engineer who designed it, he said.
Ichabod is named after Ichabod Crane in Washington Irving's short story, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.
Police and Emergency Services Minister Stuart Ayres and NSW RFS deputy commissioner Rob Rogers attended the annual arrival of the air-crane water bombing helicopter, along with Blue Mountains MP Roza Sage.
The statutory bushfire danger period began on October 1 but more than a third of the state had commenced its danger period ahead of schedule due to prevailing dry conditions.
Ichabod's checks were also conducted early for this reason, Mr Ayres said.
"We're 12 months, almost to the day, from when we lost 200 homes in an afternoon," he said.
"We are in a high-risk time ... so we have brought this asset in early."
He said the aircraft - one of about 100 used by the RFS - has been leased with joint state and federal government funding.
"We're very happy with the leasing arrangement. It's definitely the most cost-effective [practice]," Mr Ayres said.
Mr Rogers said it could also be borrowed by the other states.
Said Mr Ayres: "If you see the Ichabod in the sky, you really do know the angels are coming to save you."
Mrs Sage said her community will always be grateful for last year's aerial response.
"The people of the Blue Mountains remember what a reassuring sound it was last year to have these helicopters in the air providing invaluable support to the dedicated teams fighting the fires on the ground," Mrs Sage said.
"I hope that they are not needed in the Blue Mountains this fire season," butshe added "it is great news to hear that they are again available to combat any threats that may arise".