RFS tankers ‘a fire hazard’

RFS tankers ‘a fire hazard’

02 October 2010

published by www.bordermail.com.au

Australia —  FOUR of the Riverina’s new bushfire tankers have been identified as potential fire hazards themselves.

Concerns have been raised that the eco-friendly exhaust fitted to the new F-series Isuzu tankers will start a fire in long grass.

RFS volunteers say they have demonstrated the risk by holding a piece of paper to the exhaust and seeing it catch fire in about 20 seconds.

There have been 146 of the trucks rolled out across NSW, with two of them in Thurgoona and one each in Lavington and Berrigan.

Member for Albury Greg Aplin said with the bushfire season starting, the allegations needed to be investigated as a matter of urgency.

“We need to take seriously the issues raised by volunteer firefighters and I think it needs to be investigated,” he said.

“However, with these trucks meant to fight fires in bush and other grasslands, you would think it would have been taken into account.

“I would be very interested to hear from the captains of the brigades and volunteer drivers in the area if there have been any concerns.”

NSW opposition’s spokeswoman for emergency services Melinda Pavey said an extract from the Isuzu tanker owner’s manual warns the exhaust pipe is extremely hot immediately after vehicle operation.

It says before parking, drivers should make sure the area is free of flammable material including dry grass, waste paper, oil or old tyres.

Ms Pavey said it was important that volunteers were aware of the potential danger when they were fighting fires.

But NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons rejected the concerns, saying the general operating temperature of the newer exhaust systems was “considerably lower than that of previous exhaust systems”.

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

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

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