South-west fire units to get share of new trucks

SOUTH-WEST Victoria’s firefighting resources will be boosted with access to a $29 million fleet of 78 new trucks to be deployed to crisis points around the state.

State government investment of $17.2 million was announced yesterday in addition to the CFA’s 2014-15 budget allocation. The new fleet will include 74 medium tankers and four prototype vehicles — a medium pumper, heavy tanker, breathing apparatus truck and a heavy sand tanker.

“This is a significant investment for rural and regional Victoria that will strengthen Victoria’s emergency services and make communities safer,” Police and Emergency Services and Bushfire Response Minister Kim Wells said.

“In addition to the new vehicles, the Coalition government has invested more than $12m over the past three years to fulfil our commitment to build 250 new or upgraded CFA stations.”

CFA chief officer Euan Ferguson said the vehicles would give Victoria one of the most advanced firefighting fleets in Australia.

He said the authority was already planning where the new trucks would be deployed following their expected completion about the middle of next year.

CFA volunteers were instrumental in design and testing of the medium tankers, some of which have been trialled across the state.

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria chief executive Andrew Ford said the tankers would go to volunteer brigades in country Victoria and the outer suburbs, where the need was greatest.

“CFA’s fleet of 2200 front-line fire trucks is well maintained, but currently includes more than 500 that are over the 20-year age limit that is common practice among Australia’s fire services,” he said.

Opposition spokesman Wade Noonan said the 520 old trucks needed upgrading urgently.

“Denis Napthine has been dragged kicking and screaming to fund new fire trucks for the CFA, but the announcement still falls short,” he said. 

pcollins@fairfaxmedia.com.au

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