Grantville and surrounds will be safer in coming fire seasons now a brand new, larger capacity fire truck will be in the area. Kernot-Grantville Fire Brigade captain Andrew Blackney, right, and long-time volunteers Barrie Stewart and Joan and Allan Kerr were some fo the first to inspect the new vehicle last week. G152614
By Gav Ross
KERNOT-GRANTVILLE Fire Brigade has finally welcomed the arrival a brand-spanking new, state-of-the-art truck.
And you can’t wipe the smile off brigade captain Andrew Blackney’s face.
“It hasn’t fully sunk in yet, really,” he said, staring up at the shiny new four-wheel-drive tanker at the brigade’s Grantville station last week.
It may take a while for the brigade’s 22 volunteers to get used to the new appliance.
After all, it’s been a long time coming.
Realising there was an urgent need for a tanker with greater water capacity to safely protect the 120 square kilometres the brigade covers, volunteers started making grant applications as far back as eight years ago.
A new satellite station opened in Kernot a few years later, in 2008, but as important as that step was, a new truck was vital.
Raising $300,000 for a modern vehicle isn’t easy for any country brigade, of course, let alone one as small as Kernot-Grantville.
Earlier this year, the brigade was informed it was successful in receiving a grant through the Victorian Emergency Services Equipment Program.
The brigade also chipped in $50,000 – no small feat in itself.
Captain Blackney said the difference between the brigade’s ageing 1000-litre tanker and the new arrival is night and day.
“This one has more than twice the amount of water the old truck could hold and its pumping capacity is almost double,” he said.
“The benefits in water capacity alone are huge.
“Another important feature is the crew protection system – if we ever get into a difficult situation, the truck can now help to protect us.”
The protection system consists of a separate water reserve and a sprinkler system around the perimeter of the truck, allowing a curtain of water to stream down if volunteers ever get into a tight spot.
“Our existing brigade-owned tanker has never had this kind of protection because it was too old to be retro-fitted,” Cpt Blackney added.
Another impressive feature of the new truck is a fully remote controlled monitor (water cannon) mounted on the front of the vehicle.
Controlled by a joystick in the front cabin, the monitor is sure to become an invaluable fire-fighting tool.
“You can actually just drive straight up to a fire and squirt it without getting out of the truck,” Cpt Blackney said.
“The added safety benefits of this truck are incredible.”
Even little things have volunteers excited, such as on-board lights in the equipment locker area.
In the old tanker, volunteers would need to fumble around with a torch to get breathing apparatus and other equipment out of the lockers.
An official handover of the new truck, which will primarily be housed in the Kernot station, is expected in coming months, with the brigade planning a gathering where everyone who pitched in to raise money for the vehicle can be thanked in person.
“Every little bit helped and we can’t thank everyone enough,” Cpt Blackney said.
Grantville and District Bendigo Bank, Grantville Market committee, Kernot Hall committee and the organisers of the two Show ‘n’ Shine car shows in recent years all played a major role in fundraising efforts.
The brigade also pays particular thanks to former Captain Pat Russell and David and Michele Fulwell for their years of getting grant applications sorted.