Hi-tech Unimog arrives in time for fire season

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FIREFIGHT FLEET PREPARED TO BEAT THE HEAT… Forest Fire Management Victoria operation officers, Frank Nieuwenhuis and Andrew Corker are trained and prepared to utilise the Unimog this forthcoming dry season. Photos: Katelyn Morse.

SUMMER is set to be a scorcher around Shepparton this year, with last week’s sweltering temperatures a mere teaser for the heat that’s set to dominate the forthcoming months.

The drought has made the region so distinctly dry already; it’s essential that our spectacular firefighting services are prepared. This fire season, Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) has a fleet of 41 Unimog firefighting tankers ready to be deployed across the state.

The Mercedez Benz manufactured Unimog truck could be seen rolling around the Goulburn Valley last week alongside FFMVic’s new and improved Bell 212 helicopter for airborne services.

The Unimog is an all-terrain vehicle, purpose-built and equipped with the latest technology, including the unique Falling Object Protection System (FOPS), which would prevent falling trees and heated debris from puncturing or entering the cab of the truck. There is even a refrigerator inside the cab, a crucial addition to ensure our hardworking firefighters remain hydrated.

Several hoses can be utilised to dispense some of the water from the 4,000 litre capacity tank, including a powerful high-pressure system at the back. The wheels can also be inflated or deflated from within the cab of the truck, ensuring safety when traversing challenging terrain.

FFMVic operation officer, Frank Nieuwenhuis said, “This is a very sophisticated vehicle, fitted out with all of the latest technology to keep firefighters safe but to also quickly locate and eradicate fires.

“Inside the cab, the truck can seat four firefighters and there are several crucial safety features, including the Falling Object Protection System. There are also heat-resistant curtains inside the vehicle and a sprinkler system outside to prevent the cab from overheating.”

Forest Fire Management Victoria want to ensure the region remains fire-safe during the summer, especially around campfires. Since July this year, 70 local fires attended to by services had been started by campfires. FFMVic is encouraging all locals to observe the warnings before they start a fire anywhere and to never leave a campfire or barbeque unattended during the warmer months.