Last summer aircraft support played a key role in protecting local communities, assisting ground crews in containing numerous fires near Gellibrand and Carlisle River.
This included a bushfire at Gellibrand’s Boggy Creek in January which burnt through 350 hectares and led to residents evacuating their homes.
As one of the largest firefighting helicopters in Victoria, it will be on call for fires across the Otway District and the rest of the state.
In addition to a 4,000-litre capacity belly tank, the Coulson has a 2,850-litre powerfill bucket that can pick up water from reservoirs and the ocean, removing the need for it to fly long distances back to airbases to reload.
Pilots of the Sikorsky are required to have the aircraft in the air within 15 minutes of a callout to a fire.
A supervisor aircraft that monitors the helicopter’s aerial movements and performance will also arrive today. Both aircraft will be stationed at Colac until March.
The Otway District will also have access to the state’s 50-strong fleet of firefighting aircraft should the need arise over summer.
The fleet includes a mix of water bombing aircraft, air supervision and air intelligence-gathering aircraft.