4WD tanker gives Weerite fire brigade better access to difficult territory

WEERITE firefighters were at the Black Saturday frontline four years ago but now they’re better equipped than ever before.

The brigade, east of Camperdown, has secured a new four-wheel-drive tanker before the fire season, enabling better access to fight fires in the district’s Stony Rises.

Weerite brigade secretary Brian Boyd said the $400,000 vehicle was equipped with a high-pressure pump and water nozzle that could be operated within the cabin.

He said its 1987 predecessor was far less comfortable, especially on days of extreme heat.

“Being a four-wheel-drive makes all the difference because the old tanker couldn’t access paddocks in particularly rocky areas like the Stony Rises,” Mr Boyd said. “It’s a magnificent vehicle and has all the latest equipment.

“The old one was pretty uncomfortable on really hot days and that’s usually the time that you need to use them. It was about 25 years old and even though it’d only done 60,000 kilometres, it was a bit past it’s used-by date.”

The Weerite brigade was in the midst of the Black Saturday bushfire that struck the Pomborneit district in February 2009. Mr Boyd said the old tanker played a major role in the initial response to the grass fire.

“Everyone had that gut feeling that it’d be a really testing day and sure enough,  the fires were intense,” he said. 

“We were lucky compared to some parts of the state like Marysville and Kinglake.”

The district brigade will celebrate its diamond anniversary next year with an awards night in Camperdown on February 7.

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