Fury as Elvis firefighting chopper replaced by smaller craft

Victoria’s state firefighting aircraft has been retired

ELVIS, the state’s flagship firefighting aircraft, has been axed from the 2013 fleet after more than a decade in Victoria’s skies.
A list of firefighting aircraft, seen by the Herald Sun, reveals the Erickson S-64F Air-Crane will no longer be part of the state’s firefighting arsenal.
United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said that overlooking Elviswas a mistake.
"Fire protection in Victoria is at an all-time low under the Napthine Government and clearly, they’ve been caught out trying to deceive the public by replacing Elvis with an inferior capacity aircraft," he said.
But Fire Services Commissioner Craig Lapsley said the state would still be protected even though Elvis was not being used this fire season.
The bright orange chopper had been a champion of Victoria’s bushfire season.
In the days before Black Saturday, Elvis was instrumental in saving the town of Boolarra and is also credited for helping save 300 homes near Sydney in 2001.
The S-64F is the largest air-crane model and has the capacity to carry 9500 litres of water or foam and travel about 200km/h.
But this year, it will be replaced by the smaller E model aircraft, which can carry only 7500 litres of water.
A person familiar with the aerial fighting in Victoria told the Herald Sun the new model was inadequate.
"They’ve stuffed this up and gone with the inferior model," he said.
"It’s an inferior machine to Elvis."
While Elvis had a 9500-litre tank, the replacement model has a 7500-litre tank.
An attached bucket can bring the total capacity to 9000 litres but sources say the E model would struggle to operate at that capacity.
Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews slammed the decision to axe Elvis and blamed it on cost cutting.
"Elvis is one example of vital fire support equipment that has been scrapped as a result of the Napthine Government’s Budget cuts," Mr Andrews said.
"With predictions of an above-normal fire threat this fire season, Victorians expect that our hardworking firefighters will have the tools and resources to keep them safe – sadly Denis Napthine is letting them down."
Mr Lapsley said losing Elvis would have no impact on Victoria’s aerial firefighting capacity.
"Victorian firefighting icon Elvis was not offered to Australia this year but of the 41 aircraft we do have, 24 are helicopters," he said.
"Of those helicopters, two are still Erickson Aircranes that can carry 7500 litres of water or foam and two are Sikorsky helicopters that can carry 3500 litres."

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