Nighttime Firebombing Aircraft – Wayne Rigg – EMP9

Helicopter firefighting at night

Nighttime firebombing aircraft are only a recent addition to the tools available to firefighters in Victoria, Australia. In the past, firebombing aircraft in Australia only worked during daylight hours. However, in 2018, Emergency Management Victoria led Australia’s first trial in the use of firebombing aircraft to contain and extinguish wildfires at night.

During the trial, pilots wore night-vision goggles, which are used to detect and boost light.

Do water bombers work at night?

In Victoria, water-bombing helicopters can work at night.

In this episode, Commander Wayne Rigg talks about his role to carry out an Australian first trial in the use of helicopters in nighttime firefighting. The trial was a success and resulted in approval from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority regulatory to conduct night fire suppression activities using night vision goggles.

About Wayne Rigg

Wayne joined the CFA as a volunteer at the Eildon Fire Brigade in 1994 and then became a career firefighter in 1995. He was initially stationed at Ballarat City Fire Station and was then promoted through the ranks to Commander.

Operations Officer Wayne Rigg firebombing aircraft
Operations Officer Wayne Rigg

Wayne trained as an Air Attack Supervisor in 2005 and has been involved in aerial firebombing since. He is now considered one of the leading subject matter experts within aerial firefighting in Australia.

Wayne is also an air observer and air operations manager and performs many aviation coordination roles at Regional and State level.

Before his work with Emergency Management Victoria, Wayne held the position of CFA Aviation Officer for six years. During this time he brought about significant changes in aerial firefighting and capability. These changes have resulted in improved service delivery and protection to ground crews and communities.

Some of the projects that Wayne has been involved in include:

  • Predetermined dispatch of firefighting aircraft. This means firebombing aircraft are responded to fires via an alert system at the same time as fire trucks are responded.
  • Large firefighting Air Tankers.
  • Airborne Information Gathering.
  • Air Attack Supervisor rosters.
  • Fleet changes and a range of other projects.

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