EF Airport and Community contribute to Bush Fire Relief

Essendon Fields is a strong and generous community and nothing has illustrated this better than the combined efforts of many different stakeholders during the ongoing bushfire crisis which has devastated all Australians.

Essendon Fields Airport is Melbourne’s home base for Emergency Services air operations, and for the past few months we have been a critical hub during the firefighting, recovery and relief efforts both in Victoria and interstate. Our suppliers, operators and aviation teams have been instrumental in facilitating flights carrying people, equipment and supplies to fire affected regions across Victoria and New South Wales.

Some key activities have included the critical role of Platinum Aviation, with the support of Essendon Fields Airport crew, facilitating the departure of several military aircraft from Essendon Fields Airport to the New South Wales south coast.

On Australia Day, 350 evacuees from Mallacoota were flown back to the region on 10 departures, using the Essendon Fields terminal for passenger processing before boarding specialised Defence Force aircraft which are able to airlift into remote locations and operate from unsurfaced airstrips. The massive operations was facilitated by Platinum with support crews and assistance from Red Cross, Australian Defence Force, the Japanese Defence Force, Victoria Police, Ambulance Victoria, Executive Gourmet and Essendon Fields Airport Safety Officers and Operations Management.

Over the course of the Bushfire Emergency, passing traffic on Wirraway Road in Essendon Fields have been able to witness many specialised military and private aircraft, including the RAAF Spartans, taxing through Australia’s only jet crossing to get to the runway for take-off to fire affected zones.

The media daily have been keeping everyone updated on the essential contributions of the Erickson Air Crane Water helitankers in the different fire zones, which are assembled at Essendon Fields Airport at the commencement of each fire season for deployment to regional airports across Australia.

The Erickson Air Crane Water helitankers have been the backbone of the aerial firefighting efforts in Victoria and elsewhere, with a maximum take-off weight of 19,050kgs and a cruising speed of 170km/h the air-cranes can hold over 9,000 litres of water. Once a nearby body of water is located (like a dam, swimming pool, lake or ocean), a hose is lowered from the helitanker to skim the water and the tanks are easily refilled, the whole process taking only 45 seconds.

Erickson gives each of its aircraft a nickname, the most famous being “Elvis” which received its name after working for the US National Guard in Memphis. Some of the fleet currently in operation in Australia include “Marty”, “Delilah”, “Gypsy Lady”, “Elsie”, “Georgia Peach” and “Jerry”.

Our regional airlines have also been affected by the emergency, with heavy smoke haze earlier this month limiting visibility and delaying or cancelling flights to regional airports in New South Wales.

With aviation such a big part of the Essendon Fields community, we were deeply affected by the C-130 air tanker incident in the Snowy Mountains, and the Essendon Fields flag was flown at half-mast as a mark of our respect on the 24th of January.

Around Essendon Fields, our community have been incredibly generous by supporting bushfire relief efforts from immediate financial assistance and fundraising for impacted communities, through to providing practical assistance on the ground.

Linfox have been working closely with customers and their charity partners as well as government agencies to support the fire fighting and recovery efforts and transport a range of goods including food, water, feed for livestock and fuel.

Other initiatives have included LaManna Supermarket shoppers raising thousands of dollars for the Volunteer Fire Brigades’ Victoria Welfare Fund during their bushfire BBQ, and providing ongoing support to Foodbank Victoria through funds raised from the sale of LaManna hampers.

Essendon Field’s tenant Logic Property Group have also pledged to donate $1000 for each property sold and $200 for each financial plan to the Australian Red Cross, whilst iFLY indoor skydiving donated 50 per cent of total sales on January 8 and 9 to the bushfire appeal.

We acknowledge that countless other organisations across Essendon Fields have also been doing their part, facilitating relief operations or raising money in their workplaces who are too numerous to individually name.

We thank everyone for all their combined efforts, knowing we will all continue to support our fire affected communities as they rebuild over the months ahead and thank our community for their hard work and contribution to the relief efforts.