Concerns raised over CFA tanker replacement in Don Valley

The 3.4C tanker on the left and a 2.4D tanker on the right, outside the former main station of Don Valley/Launching Place Fire Brigade on Old Dalry Road. PICTURE: SUPPLIED

By Renee Wood

Don Valley residents are concerned their capabilities for fighting local fires are in jeopardy due to the satellite station losing its 3.4C tanker for a duration of time during the year.

For 29 days between 19 August to 17 September and 15 days between 4 November and 19 November the station’s 3.4C tanker was replaced by a 2.4D tanker.

Former CFA member Kate Cutting is concerned the replacement 2.4D truck isn’t fit for structural fires and the truck’s removal will put local properties at risk if a fire breaks out.

“The 2.4 has 2000 litres of water on it, the 3.4C has 3750, so you’ve got almost double the capacity of water and that can make a difference in an initial attack,” she said.

Hillcrest CFA Captain Colin Dickson confirmed the truck was taken for mechanical repairs and its second removal was due to Hillcrest needing the tanker while its own 3.4C tanker was sent to the CFA mechanics workshop.

“These are necessary for the pre-summer servicing to ensure trucks remain operationally ready. With these appliances being away, the brigade was down to two appliances carrying BA (breathing apparatus) sets,” he said.

“The operational decision as to where to house appliances, especially when a vehicle is away, is complex and is a decision of the Captain in consultation with our local CFA Commander. It needs to take into account many factors, including the reasonable prospects of being able to get an appropriately resourced and crewed truck out the door from a given station.”

Cpt Dickson said the 2.4D carries less water, has a lesser pumping capacity and does not carry BA.

“In the context of a firefight, whether it is a 3.4C or a 2.4D tanker, skilled firefighters applying correct priorities and appropriate water use techniques should ensure there is sufficient water on the first responding appliance until subsequent units arrive to support.”

However, Ms Cutting said the area can easily be cut off from services and would require crews to go longer routes resulting in longer response times accessing Don Valley.

Ms Cutting said this was the case during the June storms.

“On 10 June the Yarra River crossed the Don Road on our side of the bridge, couldn’t get in or out of Don Valley that way. And for the first part of the day, the trees crossed Dalry Road so yo couldn’t get in and out of Don Valley that way either, so the only way in or out of Don Valley was either the back way to Wesburn which is the back way, it’s only a fire access track or over the mountain.”

Ms Cutting’s family were part of establishing the Don Valley brigade decades ago, and she was also part of the merger bringing Don Valley, Launching Place and Woori Yallock areas under Hillcrest as the main station.

The former member said the Don Valley tanker was community funded and it was part of the merger documents that the tanker was not to leave the station and if it needed to, another 3.4C tanker was required to replace it.

“I would like to try and get some sort of undertaking that truck is not going to be taken again. You can’t guarantee that its going to get out the door even if it is there, but if it’s not there, it can’t get out the door and that’s my main concern.”

Cpt Dickson said the satellite facility has not been left without an appliance at any stage and believes the 2.4D is an adequate appliance for the area.

“Especially given the proximity of the main station and neighbouring brigades to support, brigades are always reliant on additional support, especially when two events are occurring in the area.”