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Friday, 10 October 2014 00:00

Joint Equipment & Infrastructure Committee - 2 Minute Briefing August 2014

Issue 10: August 2014

Quick snapshot of the priority issues and actions worked through at the most recent Joint Committee meeting between CFA and VFBV. (Meeting held 09/08/14)


The committee has for some time been advocating for easier methods for crews to embark and disembark from the rear working deck on tankers. Issues around access have been exacerbated by CFA’s decision to not accommodate a rear facing ROPS area on new tankers, which necessitates crews having to frequently embark and disembark between trips and protracted incidents where water points are located long distances from the fire line. CFA have advised that the main reason for the phasing out of external ROPS on new truck builds has been due to them not meeting modern day Australian Design Regulations and health and safety concerns raised by Worksafe.

Many years ago, rear deck access hatches (DAH’s) where trialled in some crew cabins, that would allow crews to access the rear deck by a small door at the rear of the main cabin. Whilst feedback from the trial was mixed, they are no longer an alternative due to modern truck cabin designs which has resulted in manufacturers no longer willing to build DAH’s due to fear that they may impact upon the structural integrity of the cabin.

The Committee has strongly advocated the need to address the issue urgently, with CFA Fleet Services agreeing to investigate options and report back. Initial investigations will look at folding stair or ladder adjustments through to the enclosed rear facing modules that mining companies have been using that would provide an enclosed ROPS that would meet Australian Design Regulations. (ADR’s)


After several reports to the Committee from Brigades using the new Medium Tankers raising concerns about road handling, CFA agreed to commission an independent expert report to test the vehicles road handling. The report has conclusively found not only that the vehicle is safe, but scores quite highly across the board on most of the individual test results.

Prior to the test, CFA wrote to 124 Brigades who have a Medium Tanker, inviting them to provide feedback on the trucks handling. Of those, only 10 Brigades expressed concerns, with most indicating its performance in highway driving. For the purposes of the test, CFA provided a new tanker straight off the production line, as well as two tankers from the two Brigades who had raised the most concern over its handling. All three vehicles were tested using identical scenarios and criteria.

The full results are currently being collated, and will be provided to the Committee shortly. Discussion on the initial analysis of Brigade feedback and the independent test results indicates that driver training needs to be improved, especially considering brigades are usually upgrading from a 20 or 30 year truck, and thus may not fully appreciate the significance of changes. The Committee has requested that CFA review its training materials in order to provide a better comparison between models – and to highlight area’s that Brigades should concentrate on during vehicle changeover training.


The Committee is strongly advocating for CFA and the CFA Board to modify its Policies on insurance coverage involving Brigade Owned Vehicles. Under current policies, CFA will only provide market value to Brigades whose vehicles are written off on the fire ground. The committee has used four recent examples where this has occurred, and where the CFA response has been completely inadequate. Whilst not necessarily arguing for new for old, the Committee is adamant that the policy must be like for like at a minimum, and CFA must support Brigades to return to status quo after an incident.

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