Firefighting reaches new heights with aerial pumper

Firefighting crews in the south-west will be better equipped after the CFA announced yesterday that Warrnambool will house one of its new multi-purpose aerial pumpers.

The announcement comes just days after a fire severally damaged Warrnambool’s Criterion Hotel.

It took over two hours for a specialist fire truck to travel from Ballarat to help extinguish the blaze inside the historic hotel on Sunday.

Fitted with an infrared camera to identify hot spots and a piercing probe to distribute water flow, the pumpers primary function will be to provide fire- fighters with an elevated water supply so that blazes in multi-storey buildings can be contained.

CFA infrastructure manager Les Mengoni said the pumps were for developing cities such as Warrnambool.

“The aerial pumpers are ideal for cities which are increasing in size, including low-rise residential development, and continue to develop as major commercial and industrial centres embrace large, broad acre factory/warehouse type environments” he said.

Member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said it was long overdue.

“We have had two fires in the last six months in Warrnambool alone that could have benefited from a high-rise fir fighting appliance; instead fire fighters have had to wait more than two hours for this vital piece of equipment to arrive” Dr Napthine said.

“An aerial appliance based in Warrnambool could be in Hamilton, Portland or Camperdown within an hour.”

The aerial pump is smaller and does not possess the rescue capabilities as Ballarat’s aerial platform.

Dr Napthine said the aerial platform would have been far more beneficial to the region than the pumper.

“A longer ladder unit with a platform could be used for aerial rescue work as well as firefighting” Dr Napthine said.

“With the growing number of multi-storey buildings being constructed in Warrnambool, there is a real need to have a local aerial firefighting appliance to tackle any fire or high-rise rescue operations.”

The CFA said the pumper was due to arrive in Warrnambool later this year.