8 May 2019

New aerial fire appliances finally on way after contracts signed

| Ian Bushnell
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The Bronto is ageing and unreliable, but a replacement is on the way. File photo.

Two new specialist firefighting vehicles designed for high-density urban environments could be on ACT streets by the end of the 2019-20 financial year after the ACT Emergency Services Agency signed contracts worth $4.2 million with leaders in aerial innovation Rosenbauer.

The procurement will deliver a new urban pumper with a 25-metre ladder and rescue platform, and a new 44-metre aerial platform ($2.2m) to replace the ageing ‘Bronto’, boosting ACT Fire and Rescue’s urban firefighting capabilities.

The ACT Government has been taking heat for some time from the Opposition and firefighters union who believed a densifying Canberra was being left exposed to the risk of fire by an under-resourced Fire and Rescue.

In February, a fire at the top of a high-rise construction site in Braddon had to be put out by firefighters lugging hoses up stairs when the Bronto was off the road, leading to calls for urgent action for new aerial appliances.

ACT United Firefighters Union secretary Greg McConville said he felt relieved and vindicated with the new additions to the fleet.

“We have argued for a long time that Canberra’s aerial capability was below parr,” he said. “By the time the aerial pumper is on the road, we will have two aerial appliances which is long overdue.

“It is not just important for the need to deal with the expanding population and high rise buildings. It is also important to have a backup in case one breaks down but also for safe fire fighting practices.”

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Mick Gentleman said the $2 million urban pumper was a faster vehicle capable of tight access rescues and firefighting.

“This pumper will be a great addition to the fleet as higher density housing is built in the ACT,” he said.

Mr Gentleman said the replacement for the ‘Bronto’ would provide firefighters with a more reliable appliance to fight fires in the town centres and suburbs.

“The $2.2 million platform is designed for raised observations and includes a water tower for high-rise fires and rescues. It can also access areas below ground level,” he said.

“Both new vehicles will be equipped with advanced technology including thermal cameras and wheelchair accessible ramps.”

Mr Gentleman said supplying them through one contractor would enable firefighters to operate both vehicles with the same training.

“Our firefighters are some of the most highly skilled in the country and we are committed to ensuring they are well equipped to keep Canberrans safe,” he said.

ACT ESA was working to have both vehicles on the road in the 2019-20 financial year.

Rosenbauer Australia Pty Ltd is a Brisbane-based subsidiary of German company Rosenbauer International AG, the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of firefighting appliances.

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