Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott has welcomed back Thor, the Hercules C130, on its return to Sydney in preparation for the 2016/17 bush fire season.

Thor, a Hercules C130, which can drop more than 15,000 litres of water or fire retardant on a blaze within a few seconds, has spent the northern hemisphere summer in the US. It has a loaded cruising speed of 545 kilometres an hour, meaning it will be able to reach most fires in the state within one hour.

“The trial of two large air tankers, including Thor, continues this season and will provide valuable assistance to our firefighters as they battle bush fires,” Mr Elliott said.

“The return of this aircraft reflects the ongoing investment towards protecting lives and property in NSW; an investment this Government has no hesitation in making.

“This aircraft is an important asset in our firefighting arsenal. In addition, the NSW Rural Fire Service has access to more than 100 aircraft to help fight both bush and fast moving grass fires.

Housed at the Richmond RAAF Base, “Thor will be able to reach anywhere in the state in under an hour. We acknowledge the great support and facilities provided by the Base once again this year.”

“People should not delay their preparations any longer. A well prepared property and a completed Bush Fire Survival Plan are both vital in protecting lives and properties in the event of a bush fire.”

NSW RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers said NSW had experienced its third wettest winter on record, which could lead to an increased fire risk.

“That rain has led to an increase in vegetation growth, which will cause some concern once it is dried. No one can be complacent; we only need a few weeks of dry weather, in any part of the state, for the risk of fire to increase,” Deputy Commissioner Rogers said.

“Thor has a huge carrying capacity and the capability to drop a lot of water or fire retardant quickly and accurately. Importantly, while aircraft provide valuable assistance in fire suppression, it’s their integration with the hard work of fire fighters on the ground, along with a well-prepared community, that makes the difference.”

All residents are encouraged to talk with their local brigade at events this Get Ready Weekend on 10 and 11 September. For events near you this Get Ready Weekend visit www.rfs.nsw.gov.au