Fire tankers a fire hazard

Fire tankers a fire hazard

01 October 2010

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Australia —  Eco-friendly exhausts fitted to the state’s new bushfire tankers are not fire hazards, because firefighters can monitor the way they work, the NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner says.

A report in The Daily Telegraph says the state’s new F-series Isuzu category fire tankers are a fire hazard because their eco-friendly exhausts can start a blaze if parked near long grass.

This is because they are fitted with a filter that traps black smoke emitted by diesel engines, reducing particulate emissions by up to 80 per cent during a 20-minute burn-off.

The burners, or “regenerators” can be initiated manually but once the filters reach capacity they can trigger without warning, the Daily Telegraph says.

But NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons says the report is “simply not true”.

The new trucks are designed to undertake a cleaning process every few hundred kilometres, he says, but this can be delayed if drivers are near fire-prone areas.

The risk is there during the last few minutes of the cleaning system exercise, which lasts for about 20 minutes, when gas coming out of the exhaust pipe is “fairly hot”, Mr Fitzsimmons says.

But he believes the general operating temperature of the newer exhaust systems “is considerably lower than that of previous exhaust systems”.

Firefighters are pre-warned the cleaning system is about to kick in by lights on the dashboard, he says.

It usually happens on highways but if it happens in fire prone areas, such as near very dry grass, the drivers can delay the cleaning process from kicking in.

“The driver has the option to say, no problem, we will do that now, or I will delay it,” Mr Fitzsimmons told AAP.

“Even if they are not in the truck, they can hit the delay button and change it to another time.”

All firefighters were talked through the features of the new feature by an engineer and given a two-page guide explaining how the cleaning process worked, he said.

From January 2011, all new vehicles would have the same emission control applied to their exhaust systems, Mr Fitzsimmons said.

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