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Firefighting saw improves roof access
A world-first firefighting pole saw developed by Bendigo fire brigade is well on the way to finding a home on CFA’s Bronto ladder platform fleet.
Bendigo, Ballarat, Traralgon and Dandenong brigades are trialling the equipment, with the on-station trials following the production and testing of a prototype firefighting pole saw in 2013.
While a generic pole saw can be purchased from just about any hardware shop, Bendigo’s 1.7-metre hydraulic model, which features a nine-inch rotating disc, is the first to be developed specifically for firefighting purposes.
The key to its design is its ability to link in to the Bronto’s existing hydraulics via outlets at the front of the cherry picker cage.
Bendigo Leading Firefighter Jaron de Prada, who led research and development behind the innovation, said there was a clear need for firefighters to have safer and more efficient access to roofs.
He hopes that the introduction of this new equipment will limit scenarios where firefighters are forced to and wait for the roof to collapse before they can gain access.
The Bendigo team looked at pole saws used by power companies to clear branches away from power lines then worked with a supplier to develop a prototype based on hydraulic principles.
“The pole saw allows firefighters to create quick, clean and safe access to get water onto a going fire, or to target specific smouldering areas during overhaul and salvage,” Jaron said.
“It lets us get to covered hot spots or trim up precarious debris, which means ground crews can enter the building earlier and more safely.
“By speeding up that process of making a fire safe it means local crews can go home faster and also that fire investigators can get in and get their job done as well.”
Jaron said the feedback so far from station trials underway at Traralgon, Ballarat and Dandenong had been positive.
“The firies are rapt with it,” he said, adding that several people had come back with ideas to improve the saw’s design or operating procedures.
“We thought we had nailed the design initially,” he said. “But every station that has trialled the saw has added something to make it better.
“An idea from Ballarat has led to us modifying the safety guard to stop it throwing around as many sparks,” Jaron said.
In 2015, the Bronto Pole Saw took out second prize for innovation across all categories in the Bendigo Inventor Awards.
Jaron, said with fortification (window bars or security screens) on multi-storey buildings becoming more common across Australia, there were important implications for rescue in addition to fire suppression.
In fact, the full potential of the pole saw –whether on or off an aerial appliance – is still being explored, both in Victoria and interstate.
“Speaking to firefighters from Queensland, they could immediately see a use for it during ship fires where they could cut through the fibreglass hull of a boat to get to a fire within the motor,” Jaron added.
“For CFA, what we’re finding now is that firefighters are finding applications for it in their own local areas that we had never even thought of in Bendigo.”
“The pole saw is not the be all and end all, but it’s becoming clear to more and more people that this is something that can make our job a lot easier and a lot safer.”