Victoria’s alpine communities will be further protected, with CFA welcoming three new specialised firefighting vehicles to its alpine brigades in time for the 2022 snow season.
The tracked pumpers have been specifically designed to operate in snow and other challenging elements that are unique to alpine environments.
The three new Prinoth Panther T6 vehicles have replaced an older model of tracked pumper at Mt Hotham-Dinner Plain, Falls Creek, and Mt Buller Fire Brigades.
Mt Hotham-Dinner Plain Captain Terry Crisp said it is a great improvement for volunteers and the community.
“The roads and tracks within the resort are not suitable for traditional vehicles, so the only firefighting appliance that can get to a scene is a tracked pumper,” said Captain Crisp.
“Between Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain, there are enough beds for 7,000 people, and thousands of day visitors can be here over winter and that all presents a significant risk.
“This is also a vehicle that we can use year-round however, so if we were to have a lodge fire during summer, we know that this vehicle can get to the scene.”
The new tracked pumpers cost a total of $2.03m and were funded by the Victorian Government after the Fire Services Statement listed new specialist vehicles among its priorities.
CFA Acting Chief Officer Garry Cook said the vehicles were designed in consultation with local volunteers to ensure they provided appropriate capability for the alpine environment.
“Water can freeze and damage the piping inside firefighting vehicles in such extreme temperatures, so these tracked pumpers have the ability to drain all the water from the internal plumbing system,” said CO Cook.
“They are also operated with a steering wheel rather than joystick to ensure ease of use, and have lower storage containers to ensure ease of access, as well as improved ergonomics.”
A/CO Cook said the replacement of the three tracked pumpers was part of CFA’s Alpine Service Delivery Strategy Plan which also includes improving community safety, enhancing the volunteer workforce, improving equipment, and ensuring building safety and compliance.
“People often associate the mountains with bushfires in summer, but the risk for alpine resorts like Mt Hotham is substantially higher during the winter,” said CO Cook.
“Chimney fires, house fires, and motor vehicle accidents are among the many incidents our alpine brigades turn out to.
“These vehicles will be a fantastic boost to the professional service our volunteers provide to their communities.”