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DMO view of the fire season
From the DMO (District Mechanical Officer) perspective, this fire season has been characterised by FCVs, tankers and slip-ons tackling tough terrain and, in some cases, getting bruised in the encounter.
“Overall the fleet is handling the conditions well at the Heyfield/Aberfeldy fire,” says Kelvin Gleeson, Acting Officer in Charge at the Moe workshop. “We repaired around 15 vehicle tyres and we also rebuilt a couple of pumps. The most common maintenance required is for partially-blocked air cleaners for the vehicles and pump engines.”
“Radiators have blocked up with dust and particles,” says Manager of Fleet Maintenance Danny Jones. “It’s important that crews monitor that for us. Do a thorough inspection when the opportunity arises such as at crew changeover. Look for grass and debris in the radiator – you can see that quite easily. It might mean lifting the cabin of your tanker. Cosmetic damage is also more likely in this type of terrain due to unseen obstacles and tight tracks.”
The DMOs will try to do a complete check of all strike team vehicles before they leave a staging area. If that doesn’t happen, there will be a complete post-fire inspection as soon as it can be scheduled. Priorities depend on geography: where has the vehicle been operating and for how long? The hardest working vehicles will top the priority list.
“We’ve had two engine failures on tankers which appear to be due to overheating under some tough driving conditions,” continues Danny. “Numerous reports have also been received of brakes overheating and subsequent brake fade. This can result in a dangerous situation for the crew and appears to be a contributing factor in a recent vehicle roll over. Please do not attempt to cool brake components with water as this can have severe effect on the integrity of brake components.”
The DMOs have implemented a relief crew roster with staff moved around the state to handle spiking workloads. They are assigned in consultation with the duty DMO, ICC and the Fleet Services Duty Officer. Forward planning enables DMOs to get to work at significant staging areas within 24 hours of first brigade call out.
Many thanks to the Euroa Gazette for the photo of the two DMOs
Thanks to Keith Pakenham for the other two photos.