New truck boosts fire brigade

Bellarine member Alison Marchant and Captain Chris Wilkinson demonstrate Leopold Fire Brigade's new tanker. (Louisa Jones) 409882_04

Leopold Fire Brigade officially welcomed a new tanker to its fleet this week with a fiery display.

Bellarine member Alison Marchant handed over the keys of the new medium tanker on Monday evening (May 27) after taking part in a demonstration of the vehicle’s firefighting capabilities at the brigade’s training area.

The new tanker, which has been on the road for about three months now, replaced a vehicle that had been in operation for well over 20 years and required most of the crew to sit on the back of the truck under a roll-over protection system.

Leopold Fire Brigade Captain Chris Wilkinson said it was “a relief” to have the new tanker in operational use, given the brigade averages over 150 call-outs each year.

“It’s a good bit of gear that will improve our firefighters’ safety and our communication effectiveness as well,” Cpt Wilkinson said.

“The vehicle’s already made it onto the road for five of our responses since we put it online. Those have been for urban calls, which includes structure fires, house fires, but it’s absolutely designed for more rural (responses), grass fires, wildfires.

“We had a busy summer… just gone, and I think the next one will be similar, where we send trucks well outside of our area.

“So when our main tanker is sent away it means we’ve got a good tanker that stays behind and will still have the urban capacity to protect our local community.”

The new vehicle, which holds 2350 litres of water to suppress fires and includes a crew protection system in the event of burnovers, was purchased through the state government’s Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program, with the brigade contributing over $58,000 and receiving a grant of over $320,000.

Cpt Wilkinson acknowledged the time and effort put in by his members to the fundraising and application process, as well as the generosity of the community.

“We set our sights on purchasing the new tanker and will now put our energy back into rebuilding our finances towards further upgrades for our brigade and local township,” he said.