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WA adopts CFA crew protect design
Western Australian fire services will use CFA’s state-of-the-art designs to introduce tanker crew protection systems to their fleet.
“We were more than happy to provide as much information as possible because we believe it’s our responsibility to help protect firefighting crews wherever they are,” said Andrew Webb, CFA’s Manager of Engineering Programs.
WA fire services set about upgrading their trucks after two of their firefighters were badly injured in late 2012. They sought advice from CFA about its tanker crew protection systems, which have been fitted as standard to all of our trucks since 2005.
“They came over to watch one of our recent burn trials to test gel based protection testing for slip-on units and ultralight tankers and left with a lot of knowledge about what we’d already done with our larger vehicles,” said Andrew Webb.
“We’ve gone through this process already – the research and development really began after the tragic firefighter deaths at Linton and we’ve done a lot of collaboration with NSW Rural Fire Service and the CSIRO since around research and development.
“We’ve been working on 40 trucks a month across 13 sites to achieve our target of approximately 1000 retrofitted trucks. Every CFA tanker that carries over 1000 litres of water will be fitted by the middle of this year.”
Designs consist of two key components:
- Radiant fire curtain blankets inside the cabin or the outside deck area – to protect firefighters from radiant heat
- The water deluge/spray system – to protect firefighters from flames.
Project Manager Peter Hill went over to provide advice and hands-on training for local crews to apply to the rest of their trucks.
“They’d gotten to the point where they’d done most of the work – such as protecting the equipment, brakes, fuel lines etc, but couldn’t go any further without some practical assistance. The deluge (water) system is hard to explain on paper and needs to be customised for each truck,” said Andrew Webb.
“Peter worked with them to fit up three vehicles that could then be used as prototypes for future retrofit programs. The original intent was to do one or two, but he ended up fitting up three – which is quite an achievement.”
“We needed to be confident that they could apply this to their own vehicles and Peter worked hard to make that happen. I’d regularly get phone calls from him at 7am (4am WA time) to make sure they were on the right track. It was hot and they worked long hours.”
“We’ve been getting some really positive feedback from WA, including some of the more senior people, about the project as well as appreciation for all the work Peter put in – it was a great effort and extremely worthwhile.”