Updated maintenance truck full of innovation

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CFA members have a strong appreciation for our district mechanical officers’ (DMOs) capabilities. You may have witnessed their work or heard stories about how DMOs are an amazing cohort of can-do people who can fix anything from chainsaws to helicopters.


One of the DMOs’ mantras is ‘the right tool for the job’, and that’s what has been achieved with the latest development of large DMO service vans built by MFI Service Bodies in Pakenham. With project kick-off in late 2019, a working group of DMO leading hands – Damien Taman from Moe, Scott Stevens from Ballarat, Chris Bell from Warrnambool and Sean Botting from Seymour – started discussions around what capabilities the new van needed.

The team developed a document called a Role Statement that described the features needed to maintain annual field servicing capability, fault rectification, perform fire truck modification programs and support CFA volunteers at minor and major incidents in Victoria and interstate deployments.

Following this, the working group thought about how one vehicle could do all this in a safe, compliant and efficient way.

To answer this, the team first visited key industry providers who transport waste oils, who work at heights and who carry an array of hand tools and equipment to service vehicles in the field. Then they drafted a specification and reviewed different cab chassis models, products and components, and visited several companies to inspect products.

In addition, the group consulted with all DMO workshops and carried out a step analysis during a routine service. It was found that with the current service van layout, an average of 1,000 steps were taken to carry out a general service and inspection. The new design will significantly reduce the number of steps required.

A draft specification was prepared taking into account the lessons learned from these visits and relevant regulation and compliance requirements. CFA then invited manufacturers to quote to supply five turn-key vehicles in the first batch.

“Throughout the build process, the working group has collectively engaged with the wider DMO network to ensure this new vehicle design delivers the capability needs,” said Manager Fleet Maintenance (East) Kelvin Gleeson.

“One of many key achievements is how this vehicle meets and exceeds compliance and best industry practice for certain design aspects such as no-spill oil transfer, working at height and ergonomics.”

The Moe workshop received the first new truck and Moe DMOs were very thankful.

“This vehicle has many key features to help in our daily work,” Damien Taman, Moe Leading Hand and member of the working group said. “For example, instead of carrying hot and heavy oil from an oil drain tray back to the vehicle, we now connect a non-spill hose connection and suck the oil into the vehicle’s on-board 200-litre waste oil tank.”

When the first truck was built, the project team engaged a certified ergonomist to review the design and help DMOs to adopt healthy daily postural movements when working from the vehicle.

Some of the truck’s features are:

  • welfare items – fridge, defibrillator, first-aid kit, space for personal bags
  • cab chassis class-leading safety features
  • optimal weight distribution to prolong service life
  • truck-mounted crane with wireless control
  • 200-litre fresh oil tank and 200-litre waste oil tank
  • 160-litre water tank for cleaning/truck washing
  • recessed tray floor restraints
  • ability to produce 240V from an engine-driven generator.

“We’ve completed many reviews on the locker layouts to ensure we can carry all the necessary items to keep our volunteers mobile,” Damien said. “Another great outcome is that we can work from the ground and don’t need to climb up on the tray to get frequent items or to operate the different systems such as the air compressor, ladders and oil tanks.”

COVID-19 restrictions led to a delay in delivering the first vehicle. However, this enforced delay resulted in a refined product that has had considerable thought, testing and engagement with all stakeholders.

This vehicle has been discussed at AFAC fleet meetings and interstate emergency services have shown interest.

It will be an exciting time for our DMOs as the current service van bodies were designed 30 years ago. With the change in firefighting vehicles over the past 30 years, the new service truck will give our DMOs the capability to maintain the fleet efficiently for many years.

Photos: Keith Pakenham AFSM


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Submitted by Joel Read