Mansfield region home to the oldest CFA trucks in the state
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.