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Alpine vehicle a light touch on snow
A prototype alpine vehicle has made the most of a fresh blanket of snow at Mt Buller to complete a final successful test run on the ski slopes.
The Alpine First Attack Vehicle is specially designed for conditions in the mountains and is fitted with interchangeable triangular tracks in winter and wheels in summer.
CFA has been successfully trialling the truck since healthy snowfalls at Mt Buller in early July and were able to carry out an assessment on Thursday 2 July in 20 centimetre-deep snow.
Operations Officer Paul Horton said the way the vehicle had performed so far was better than expected.
“It’s exciting,” he said. “We had eight inches of snow on the ground and the truck left a track just one inch deep.
“Compared to a human footprint, the vehicle produces just a quarter of the pressure PSI (per square inch), leaving minimal environmental impact.”
The vehicle is being housed with Mt Buller Fire Brigade as part of a 24-month trial taking in two winter and two summer seasons, and has been put to the test on all surfaces including concrete roads, ice and snow.
It was first put through its paces at a large incident during the Ancona bushfire last summer.
Mr Horton said the truck was highly manoeuvrable and light-weight, which gave CFA’s fleet added flexibility. “We now have access to areas we’ve never had before and in a more timely fashion,” he said.
“This gives us great confidence in the concept and hope for potentially expanding its use more widely in the future.”
Also vital to the prototype’s performance were the track system and the high-pressure firefighting pump, said Mr Horton.
“The pump is incredibly efficient in the way it uses water or foam, and incredibly easy to use. It’s a different shape and design to what we’re used to using at CFA,” he said.
“The nozzle has the ability to shoot a jet of water or foam out to 15 metres.”
US company Mattracks has supplied the prototype’s rubber triangular tracks, used by a range of industries with a need to access hard-to-reach places.
The concept prototype was developed and built last year. The trial is part of ongoing partnership with CFA, resort management, and the ski lifts.