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Protecting those who protect us

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Emily Waite
Emily Waite
Emily Waite has been the Editor of the North Central Review since late April, 2024. With a particular focus on delivering community driven stories, Emily has been responsible for implementing the new 'Words of wisdom' segment, and regularly reaches out to residents both young and old to share their stories with the paper. Emily graduated with high distinctions in a Bachelor of Music from JMC Academy in 2022, and graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Writing and Literature from Deakin University in 2023.

Every single CFA ultra-light tanker will soon be upgraded or replaced, with the commencement of the CFA’s new retrofit program.

Announced earlier this month, the $8.14 million initiative will see 246 existing ultralights upgraded and 33 new ultralights with crew protection purchased.

Each upgraded ultra-light tanker will feature a compressed air foam based external deluge system (CAFS) and radiant heat shield curtains that will take the potential temperature from over 800 degrees down to just 38 degrees – giving firefighters precious extra minutes to shelter if they are trapped by fire.

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The internal cabin will also provide storage for fire blankets, making them more accessible for protection in a burnover.

Premier of Victoria Jacinta Allen stated that the new and upgraded ultra-light tankers would ensure the safety of volunteer firefighters.

“Our CFA volunteers put themselves on the line for their communities every day,” she said.

“That’s why we’re helping make sure that they return to their loved ones every night.”

CFA Chief Executive Jason Heffernan said real-fire exposure testing had been thoroughly conducted over the past few years to ensure the new systems met the occupant survival criteria.

“Retrofitting all our ultralights gives our members the best possible chance of survival in a burnover,” he said.

“The safety of our firefighters is our number one priority and we’re continuously looking for improved measures to do this.”

All CFA crews will undertake entrapment drills to ensure volunteers can familiarise themselves with the new protection system.

Upper Beaconsfield Fire Brigade Captain Ian Pinney said their ultralight vehicle was one of the first in the program to receive the new foam fit out.

“It’s an additional protection feature for the occupants in the vehicle. Hopefully we never have to use it, but it’s comforting to know it’s there,” he said.

“Ultralights have a light footprint so they are great to use in difficult-to-reach areas that trucks can’t.

“Our brigade is based in a high-risk rural bushfire area, and we’ve attended significant fires over the years, so I can definitely see the benefit to further protecting our firefighters.”

The ultra-lights retrofit program is expected to be completed by the end of 2024.

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