Robert Mace wins Spirit of CFA Award for hose testing innovation

When one of his colleagues was seriously injured while testing hoses five years ago Leading Firefighter Robert Mace knew he had to do something to make the task safer - in the five year's since he developed a new hose testing machine there hasn't been a single near miss or injury report.


Robert was the Operational Health and Safety representative at the time of the incident in Rosebud 5 years ago that left a firefighter seriously injured when a hose failed during testing and a heavy metal coupling struck the firefighter on his helmet.

Despite wearing the correct protective gear the coupling caused serious damage to the firefighter's skull and he spent a significant amount of time in hospital.

Robert was nominated for the Excellence in Innovation (Individual) Spirit of CFA Award by fellow Wodonga firefighter Lachlan Nicholson.

"Robert has been a passionate believer in making any task as safe as possible and practical as can be," Lachlan said.

"He designed and commissioned a hose testing machine for our station and later a hose testing trailer to be based at District 24 headquarters and booked out to any other brigade in the district."

"Without Robert's determination to make safe a relatively hazardous task this would not have been possible."

The benefits the new hose testing machine delivers include:

  • Much safer process due to low volume of water and couplings being anchored to the machine
  • More effective identification of faulty hose
  • Doesn't require a fire truck which reduces wear and tear and allows hose testing even if trucks aren't available
  • Much reduced noise levels, increasing health and safety and also allowing testing at all times of the day and night
  • Mobile system that can allow testing of hoses at incidents and other stations
  • Much quicker testing of hoses

Lachlan said: "Having each of our members come home safely is our number one goal. Even when we get back to the station we can be put in danger and this unit can minimise the risks involved in those duties."

Author: Martin Anderson