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  • Writer's pictureSheree Hoddinett

Locally Built Emergency Vehicles Join the Crew

When it comes to emergency response, the use of state-of-the-art equipment is paramount. From battling fires to rescuing those in distress, the efficiency and reliability of fire vehicles play a pivotal role in safeguarding lives and protecting property. A fleet of new fire appliances built locally right here in Narangba have been meticulously engineered to withstand the rigors of the most demanding firefighting scenarios. The vehicles have been dispersed to Fire and Rescue and Rural Fire Service (RFS) stations throughout Queensland and will play a vital role across a wide range of rescue scenarios, including road crash rescue and swift water rescue.


Ten new vehicles, including seven water tankers and three medium rescue trucks, have been produced as part of a $7.43 million investment multi-year approach to fleet procurement across the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES). The seven RFS tankers range in size from 7000 to 12,000 litres and will go to Central and North Coast Regions, as well as Brigalow, Gympie South, Withcott and Glenwood fire brigades. The three new medium rescue trucks will be delivered to Brisbane, Northern and Far Northern regions. They will replace existing aged units. The tankers help provide additional water support at the scene of large-scale structure and vegetation fires.


Locally Built Emergency Vehicles

The 2023-24 QFES fleet budget comprises $18.7 million for new FRS trucks, on top of about $23 million for new RFS trucks, support vehicles and the retrofitting of deluge systems that protect personnel from passing vegetation fires. The current build program provides for the procurement of 210 appliances across fire and rescue and RFS, including 89 FRS vehicles from 2022-23 to 2024-25 and 121 RFS vehicles from 2022-23 to 2023-24. In addition, QFES is working to deliver 55 appliances that were part of the 2021-22 program but were delayed due to supply challenges. That brings the total number of new vehicles to be delivered to 265, including 147 for RFS and 118 for FRS.


As the QFES Brisbane North Zone Commander, Superintendent David Brazel has been a part of the service for more than 35 years and has a great amount of respect for the vehicles they have access to. Utilising the local manufacturer at Narangba to add to their fleet has a multitude of benefits, both on the job and behind the scenes.


“We’ve used this manufacturer in Narangba for medium rescue tenders and also our pumper tank appliances,” Supt. Brazel explains. “We have used them for numerous different builds now and it is handy having them locally because there was an instance recently with one of our trucks in Burpengary where we were able to take equipment off of it and see how it would fit neatly on the appliance that they were building at the time. So it does have its advantages for that.”


Supt. Brazel highlighted the importance of the service always needing new vehicles, negating a need for a rotation of appliances.


“Each of the appliances has different years of service, from our aerial appliances right down to the pump appliances that would fill your local station,” Supt. Brazel says. “So, for all the crews out there, it’s invaluable to get them, particularly during really bad bushfires and other severe weather events.


“We have a fleet of spares, particularly in our region, but as vehicles need repair or go for servicing, we have to bring our spares up so that they're progressively retired out of the fleet. They do cop a fairly hard life out there, to be honest. For example, the pumper appliances can be sitting in a station ready to go and the next thing, they're screaming down the highway at 100 kilometres an hour. The newer appliances are invaluable and the crews have a great amount of respect for them too. They’re obviously a lot more comfortable and fit more equipment, as well as being designed with different specialities to cover particular situations.”


With a few decades of service behind him Supt. Brazel has seen many changes over the years and while overall the goal is still the same, technology has certainly changed the landscape in multiple ways. 


“This season hasn’t been as disastrous for bushfires locally with low fire danger ratings,” he says. “But having said that, neighbouring regions down the coast haven’t been as lucky, particularly out in the southwest region and we've also sent crews up to the Atherton Tablelands assisting far northern regions with fires. We have been very lucky in that aspect.


“But this is a job where we are able to share personnel to assist with disasters in other states and even on an international level as well. Every day you go to work, you never know what might happen, it could be cyclones, a chemical incident and lately we have been getting numerous fires caused by lithium batteries.


“The prevalence of the fires in them, it’s something that wasn't around quite a number of years ago. So that has significantly grown in risk with electric scooters and bikes, as well as many other items potentially driven by batteries nowadays. So, it is keeping us busy, it’s evolution, but it's just a different type of fire that we're dealing with or needing to learn how to deal with on top of our other knowledge.”


As he edges closer to retirement (don’t worry there’s still a few years left in him yet), Supt. Brazel still enjoys the challenges of the job and relishes the diversity and opportunity it continues to offer.


From their initial build in Narangba to the rural localities they have found their way to, these new fire trucks are poised to make a lasting impact for many years to come. 

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