Firefighters get high-tech prototype firefighting vehicles
The prototype designs are based on extensive input from firefighters
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MELBOURNE, Australia — The latest high-tech prototype firefighting vehicles have been unveiled by Minister for Environment and Climate Change Ryan Smith today at Warrandyte State Park as part of the Department of Sustainability and Environment’s (DSE) expanded firefighting fleet.
The vehicles will be used for fire management on Victoria’s 7.6 million hectares of public land, or roughly one third of the state, and as part of the Victorian Coalition Government’s planned burning program, aimed at reducing bushfire risk to people, property and communities.
Mr Smith, who was joined at the launch by Victoria’s new Chief Fire Officer (DSE) Alan Goodwin, said the newest additions to the fleet had been specially designed to suit Victoria’s terrain and firefighting needs.
“The prototypes include two new designs for ultra-light tankers and a retrofitted heavy tanker,” Mr Smith said.
“After much research, design and testing, some of the improvements include GPS mapping and tracking, increased crew protection from fire or falling trees, innovative emergency lighting systems and easier to use hose reels.
“These vehicles will help build a more efficient, fit for purpose, safer fleet to put our firefighters in the best position to fight fires and conduct fuel reduction work.”
Over the coming months the prototype vehicles will tour the state together with other newly-designed tankers and be put through their paces in different terrain to help DSE crews fight fires and carry out planned burns.
Mr Smith said while Victoria had experienced a lot of wet weather this year, just a few weeks of hot, dry and windy weather could create dangerous fire conditions.
“We need to make sure our vehicles can go where DSE firefighters need to work, which is in some of the most fire-prone bush and forests in the world,” Mr Smith said.
“Our vehicles have been designed after extensive consultation and testing, including trials of inter-state vehicles in various environments.
“DSE also spoke with around 200 people, visited 12 work centres with staff from 57 depots and toured the vehicles around Victoria for three months to come up with the new designs.
“Ergonomics and how different colours can be used to enhance crew safety in low visibility situations also figured heavily in the development of the vehicles.”
The ultra-light tankers will be based on a Toyota Landcruiser. In December, an additional prototype ultralight tanker based on a Mercedes G Wagen and three new light tanker prototypes based on an Isuzu NPS 300 will also be launched.
The tankers have been unveiled during Fire Action Week, Victoria’s annual bushfire awareness week, which aims to raise awareness of the risk of bushfire and grassfire and prompt Victorians to carry out preparation and planning activities.
“During Fire Action Week, we’re encouraging Victorians to carry out preparation activities to make leaving early easier. These include packing a relocation kit, talking to family about plans, and checking Fire Danger Ratings and warnings,” Mr Smith said.
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