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Brigades benefit from $200,000 water boost
Blocked hose nozzles, an unusable toilet and almost draining a town’s water supply are all in the past for some of the brigades benefitting from a generous donation by water tank manufacturer, Kingspan Water.
Locksley, Carranballac, Springhurst, Christmas Hills and Boneo brigades now have 60,000 litre steel water tanks to enhance firefighting capacity.
The idea was inspired by a chance meeting of Tankworks’ rural manager with CFA members manning a stand at Farm World 2014. More than 2 years later, Tankworks became part of the Kingspan Group, which remained committed to its support of CFA.
“CFA members work tirelessly to protect their local communities,” said Kingspan Rural Manager, Russell Jamieson.
“We have a responsibility to support organisations such as CFA, which despite limited resources, play such a critical role in protecting and preserving life and property, particularly when the risks of severe fires continue to increase,” Mr Jamieson said.
“Our rural business depends entirely on local rural people and communities, who do not have the same level of essential city services such as water. This is our way of supporting and giving back to these rural communities.”
“We now have some water,” said Brigade Captain Tony Liston of the new tank installed at the brigade’s small Glenelg Highway station, located in the Pyrenees Shire, one of the 10 most drought affected areas in Victoria.
“We used to fill the fire truck from the dam in the recreation reserve, but that dam has been dry,” Tony said, adding that other options were any dams with water or a natural spring about 15km away from the station.
With winter rains putting water into the tank, the brigade is better positioned than ever for the summer fire season
“It will certainly make life a lot easier,” Tony said, adding that was well as improving firefighting capacity, the brigade could finally connect its station toilet.
“We have a toilet in the shed, but it’s never been used because we had no water for it.”
Brigade Captain Peter Rae said the new tank had tripled water storage capacity at the station.
“Because we are not on town water supply, it’s really good for us to have that water security, especially when there’s a drought,” Peter said.
“It will also save us a lot of time not having to drive to a hydrant and get 2000 litres of water at a time, which is the most our tanker can hold.”
Peter said the boost to water capacity would increase training opportunities, not just for Christmas Hills, but other small brigades within the Nillumbik group.
“We plan to develop more local-based training here as we are one of the few brigades with land around it. This new tank means there is more water to use, especially when we have training props here. We can go through 30,000 litres of water in a session with a training prop,” he added.
Like Christmas Hills, Boneo’s new water tank will result in improved training opportunities for not just Boneo members, but other local brigades who use the central site for mobile prop training.
Brigade Captain David Fontana estimates at least 40 minutes of valuable training time will be saved by having water available on site.
With no reticulated water in the area, the brigade was previously unable to fill-up on site, instead having to drive 1/2km up the road to re-fill.
“We have trucked in the first load of water to allow the tank to bed in and since then, we’ve had a 28m bore sunk, which has a 4 litre per second flow,” David said.
With the new tank due to be plumbed into the bore in time for the fire season, the Brigade’s strategic central location and use as a strike team staging area will be even further enhanced.
Immediate past Captain Peter Baensch said previously the small brigade relied on a 3000 litre tank and also had to source water from dams or travel to nearby fire stations to fill up.
“Last year we had lightning strikes, which started a number of fires in the area. We had 6 tankers that needed re-filling, but with the small water tank and pump, it took 10 minutes plus to fill a tanker.
“This meant tankers had to travel to Longwood to re-fill or get water from local dams.
“We now have the capacity to not only quickly fill tankers with water, but to also fill them with clean water that will not block nozzles, which can happen when we get dirty water from dams,” Mr Baensch said.
There is no doubt North East Water will be happy with Springhurst Brigade’s new tank, after the town’s water supply tank was nearly drained by the brigade during a large burn-off.
The Springhurst station has been on reticulated water supply, but with water piped from Wodonga, by the time it reaches the station, the flow rate is only 4 litres per second, compared to 12-14 litres per second outflow via the station’s pump.
“During burn offs or fires, the town runs out of water really quickly,” said 5th Lieutenant Kevin Atteridge.“We almost drained the town water supply about 3 years ago, so we need to be 100% self-reliant.”
The improved water capacity will also enhance training opportunities for the Brigade’s State 11-15 year old junior championship team as prepares to defend its title in 2017.