11 May 2013

More firetrucks upgraded to endure blazes

8:05 am on 11 May 2013

The state government in Victoria has extended a programme that equips older fire trucks with protection systems to withstand bushfires.

Emergency Services Minister Kim Wells said a further 74 CFA trucks will upgraded as part of the $23 million crew protection retrofit program.

AAP reports the trucks will be fitted with heat-proof curtains and panels, water-spraying systems and enhanced intercom services as part of the upgrade.

Mr Wells was speaking at the Napoleons-Enfield Brigade: its firefighters learnt first-hand the importance of crew protection systems when their truck hit a tree during a blaze at Dereel, south of Ballarat, earlier this year.

The crew took shelter in their vehicle as the fire raged around them. AAP reprots they survived the flames, but were hospitalised for smoke inhalation.

CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson said the Dereel incident proved the worth of the additional upgrades.

The programme applies only to trucks built before 2006, as all models built afterwards are already fitted with crew protection systems.

Mr Wells also said more than $A12 million worth of government grants would be available to emergency service groups to buy new equipment.

Volunteer crews are able to apply for up to $A100,000 for new trucks, tankers, watercraft and minor facility upgrades.