Mans­field re­gion home to the old­est CFA trucks in the state

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MERRIJIG CFA is home to one of the old­est fire trucks in the state.

Built in the late ‘80s, the big red beast has served the com­mu­nity for more than 30 years.

The rev­e­la­tion comes af­ter a re­cent re­port high­light­ing Vic­to­ria’s age­ing tanker fleet.

It is thought that of the 1753 trucks in the CFA, al­most 550 are more than 20 years old.

De­spite the age of the Merrijig truck work­ing against the Mans­field fleet av­er­age, group CFA leader Fred For­rest said the re­gion was in a bet­ter po­si­tion than most.

“It is def­i­nitely an is­sue for other ar­eas in the state, but not re­ally a big one for us,” Mr For­rest said.

“Most of our groups have got at least one newish truck, and we make sure that if an old tanker is in use, it is backed up by a new truck.

“We won’t ever send an older tank out on its own.”

Booroo­lite CFA is the clos­est back-up bri­gade for Mans­field.

They are also the first re­in­force­ment op­tion for the Jamieson and Goughs Bay com­mu­ni­ties.

De­spite around 30 call outs a year, the Booroo­lite bri­gade is still driv­ing its 1989 model fire truck.

“We only have the one tanker,” Booroo­lite CFA cap­tain Mike Fis­cher said.

“It’s safe enough, but it’s not ideal.”

Like other older mod­els, crews must t r avel i n t he back of t he truck.

“It was retro-fit­ted a few years ago with a spray pro­tec­tion sys­tem, which means the whole truck is cov­ered in water in an emer­gency sit­u­a­tion,” Mr Fis­cher said.

“But from a safety point of view, and from an oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety point of view, it’s not great.”

De­spite the age­ing tanker, Mr Fis­cher said the older trucks couldn’t be beaten when it came to off-road abil­ity.

“It’s great in the bush, and has re­ally good ma­noeu­vra­bil­ity – bet­ter than the new heav­ier mod­els that other brigades have been up­graded to,” he said.

Back out at Merrijig, CFA cap­tain Peter Bowker said they were wait­ing on a re­place­ment for their 1989 model.

“We’ve been promised a new truck, but we’ve been wait­ing a long time for it,” he said.

“We don’t send the old tank out on strike team - it can’t sit on 100kmh.”

Like the Booroo­lite team, Mr Bowker said Merrijig’s tanker was hard to beat in a four wheel drive sit­u­a­tion.

“Of course, we want an up­graded truck – but not a heavy model; we need some­thing that is light weight, but also ef­fec­tive,” he said.

“Ul­ti­mately, when we go to a fire we put vol­un­teers’ lives at risk – our num­ber one pri­or­ity needs to be safety, and rid­ing in the back of a truck is not the best way to achieve that.” MIDDLE WEIGHT WORLD CHAM­PI­ONSHIP

OLD BUT GOLD: The Merrijig CFA truck is one of the old­est in Vic­to­ria. Pic­tured (from left) are Ange Pren­der­gast, Merrijig CFA cap­tain Peter Bowker and Ian Davies.

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