First attack vehicle on trial

A new first attack vehicle commonly used in the alpine areas is being trialled at the Cobrico and Elingamite peat fires.

A SPECIALIST vehicle designed to help the CFA fight blazes in the alpine regions of Victoria is currently being trialled at the Cobrico and Elingamite peat fires.

The Alpine Region First Attack Vehicle stationed at Mount Buller has made its way to the south west as the CFA continues to battle the ongoing fires.

CFA operations officer Colin Reid said the vehicle and a crew of two had come from Mount Buller to trial the vehicle.

“There’s a specialist crew of two down from Mount Buller for a four day deployment,” he said.

“It allows us to gain information (on the peat), so that in the event it could happen again, we can get the vehicle down quicker if necessary.”

The vehicle has been based at the Lake Cobrico peat fire since Wednesday and could remain in the area for up to two months but must return to Mount Buller at the start of the snow season.

CFA operations officer Paul Scragg said the vehicle was the only one of its kind in the CFA and was deployed to see if it was effective in the peat environment.

“The vehicle allows us to gain access to areas that are inaccessible to wheeled vehicles,” he said.

“It will be here for as long as required, permitting it does the job.”

The vehicle is a modified Toyota Landcruiser with a 300 litre water tank and foam proportioning system located on the rear.

It uses less water than a fire truck but does a similar job with less impact on the environment.

The vehicle has the ability to navigate different types of terrain and can swap between using wheels and tracks depending on conditions.

It is capable of carrying crew and equipment into areas considered unreachable with a higher degree of manoeuvrability compared to other vehicles in the CFA’s fleet.

Mr Scragg said the vehicle was used all year round, when required, in the Alpine region.

“In the summer we put the wheels on it to fight grass and bushfires and at the start of the snow season and through the winter we put the tracks on,” he said.

“That makes it easier for us to traverse around in the beautiful, snowy conditions.

“The tracks have a larger footprint, which makes it easier to get around.

“It’s environmentally friendly (the vehicle) and won’t sink into the ground as much.”

Mr Reid said the trial would determine whether the CFA uses the Alpine Region First Attack Vehicle in future fires.

“It’s a vehicle in our fleet that isn’t considered a first response vehicle but it does give us an option with future fires involving peat,” he said.

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