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Truckloads more safety
CFA firefighters are now better protected from the risk of injury or death in a burnover, thanks to a major upgrade of safety systems and equipment in tanker trucks.
A total of 844 vehicles made prior to 2006 have all received enhanced crew protection systems with features including radiant heat protective curtains, water-spraying systems, heat-shielding panels and upgraded intercom communication systems.
The final truck, earmarked for upgrade under the three-year Crew Protection Retrofit Program, was completed on 26 April and, due to the program being delivered before time and under budget, a further 74 trucks will be retrofitted.
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson said the $23 million project (which covers development, testing, installation and ongoing maintenance) has been rolled out statewide, with appliance upgrades taking place at CFA’s 13 District Mechanical Workshops.
“This has been a major project for CFA which reduces the risk of injury or death to firefighters if trapped in a burnover situation,” he said.
Mr Ferguson said the crew protection system had proven its worth during the summer fire season when a crew was involved in a vehicle accident at the Dereel fire, south of Ballarat.
“The crew received minor injuries when the vehicle they were travelling in collided with a tree in thick smoke. As a result, the truck became immobilised and the fire burnt around the vehicle,” he said.
“The firefighters enacted full crew protection and took shelter in their vehicle following correct procedures as per their training. They should be commended for their actions and quick-thinking under such difficult circumstances.”
With the extension of the program, all trucks over 1000L, not due for current replacement and made prior to 2006, will be retrofitted. All vehicles produced after 2006 are already fitted with crew protection systems.
“All of these systems have been stringently tested and members have been well trained in how to use them. While we hope crews never have to use the systems, it is just another measure we can take to ensure the safety of our people at the frontline,” Mr Ferguson said.
The Victorian Government-funded retrofit program has also generated additional employment with CFA hiring an extra 25 District Mechanical Officers (DMOs) to undertake the project.
“DMOs are fully-qualified mechanics and are responsible for the maintenance and repair of CFA’s 2500-plus appliances. They have played a huge role in delivering this successful program,” Mr Ferguson said.