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Prototype sand tanker on trial
CFA has produced a prototype sand tanker, which was developed after consultation with stakeholders, and a further five are planned this financial year.
By Karen Barnet, project manager
The tanker is an updated and modified 3.4D tanker, originally built in 2000. The cab chassis is an Isuzu FTS 750 single cab and has had significant updates to make it suitable for use in sandy country, including super single tyres (Bridgestone 385/65 R22.5 tyres on 11.75 x 22.5
Mullins rims) and an AirCTI central tyre inflation system.
This system allows the tyre pressures to be changed from the cab of the vehicle and while the vehicle is in motion. In sandy conditions, the truck’s tyres can be deflated so that the tyres have a greater surface in contact with the sand.
Bell Environmental in Sunshine completed the body modifications and the new stowage arrangement. The central tyre inflation system was fitted by AirCTI in Moe.
Other enhancements to the vehicle include: a permanently-connected suction hose in a locker mounted at the rear on the offside; altering the live hose reel to 30 metres of 19mm hose; moving the dead hose reel to mid under-tray on the offside; and changing to a Quenchmaster Class A foam system.
Safety improvements include:
- New LED hazard lights and beacons
- New red/lime green Battenburg striping and outline striping
- New continuous yellow handrail
- Lowered front cab access steps
- Cab access handles, step ring and step treads changed to safety yellow
- Air horn which includes activation from the rear of the vehicle
- New non-flammable Thermaguard mud flaps
- New larger tray access steps with swinging lower section.
In mid-September for two days, this modified truck underwent trials in the north-west, where it was tested in the sandy areas near Yanac and Pigick in District 17. Brigade members were briefed on these new features, and then drove the truck in sandy terrain to test the improved drivability.
At the end of each day’s testing, the members were asked about the design changes and feedback was positive. The tanker was judged as being well suited to the sandy terrain. However, the testers weren’t sure whether super single tyres or dual rear tyres were best suited to the sand.
All agreed the AirCTI system was an essential improvement.
One of the testers, Murray Miller from Yanac Fire Brigade, thought the system was much needed.
“Allowing brigades to deflate and inflate tyres easily will definitely save many hours wasted with bogged trucks waiting to be towed out instead of fighting fires. I think the inflation system will be an A grade addition,” Murray said.
All the feedback from these sessions is being assessed and further trials in District 18 may be undertaken after the 2017 harvest season.
When the prototype isn’t being evaluated, it’s based at Yaapeet Fire Station.