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Improving safety at burns
For many years quad bikes have been used by CFA brigades at roadside fuel reduction burns because they are more effective and faster than using handheld drip torches.
By Mark Garvey AFSM
But, as we reported in Brigade magazine in the spring 2017 issue, there has been an increasing number of injuries and deaths following rollovers.
As a result, CFA is investigating a switch to a safer vehicle to improve firefighter safety on the fireground, which also aligns with a general thrust by WorkSafe and the Victorian Government to do the same across rural and farming communities.
Called side-by-side vehicles, which look like a golf buggy, the driver and passenger can sit side by side. They have a fitted roll cage, are easier to drive – thanks to a steering wheel – have seat belts and a wider wheel base for better stability.
CFA has bought two side-by-sides to trial this summer across South West Region. They are made by Landboss and have a three-cylinder diesel-powered engine. They will be used by brigades involved in spraying and burning.
The productivity, manoeuvrability, flexibility, safety and transportability of the vehicles will be assessed.
Some people think side-by-sides are not as effective at roadside burns as quad bikes, so we’ll make sure we compare the two vehicles, like for like, on the fireground.
By the end of the summer, CFA hopes to show that side-by-sides are flexible, manoeuvrable and safe, and perform as well as quad bikes. If so, CFA will have the evidence to extend their use across the state.