CFA Victoria has built the next generation prototype pumper tanker, including a hydraulically driven pump, which will soon tour the state for review. 

Project Manager, Peter Hill, said the build has presented a number of unique challenges and the prototype will trial several new ideas. Mr Hill said CFA Victoria tried to incorporate some innovative thinking into this build. 

Features include:

  • New control screens 
  • A thermal imaging camera mounted on the bull bar with a display inside the cabin
  • Battery-operated tools (including a battery-operated chainsaw)

Mr Hill said some features are more subtle.

“The pump, tucked away behind the rear control panel, is hydraulically driven,” Mr Hill said. 

“Traditionally, most of our pumps are either diesel engine or PTO [power take-off] driven. The new hydraulic drive will mean it will be a lot quieter.”

A new tank ‘auto fill’ system has been included, which means the tank is always full when boosting from the mains.

Other new ideas incorporated include: new tray door locks, luminous handrails for ease of use at night, and a rear body-mounted electronic messaging board.

“We have even changed to a new low profile, black painted bull bar with an integrated light bar,” Mr Hill said.

Mr Hill said, unfortunately, production has not been immune from the effects of COVID-19.

“We’ve been challenged by a number of unique issues,” Mr Hill said.

“A prototype build usually requires a lot of direct, hands-on with the builder. A lot of tweaking is required. 

“We couldn’t do that this time because of the access restrictions, so most of the design review and build control had to be done remotely via drawings, photos and videos.”

Mr Hill said CFA Victoria’s body builder has had to change the way the build has progressed and has had a lot of issues sourcing parts.

“It’s not until something like this happens that you realise how interconnected the world really is,” Mr Hill said. 

“The cab chassis, controls and electronic components come from Europe, the pump from the US and valving and raw metal from China.”

Early on there was a lot of discussion about the role of the vehicle. Was it to be a pumper tanker or a tanker pumper? In the end, the engineering team agreed that the vehicle’s primary role was as a pumper.

Mr Hill said it was also important that the vehicle had a footprint the same or smaller than the current new heavy tanker.

“Keeping the vehicle to a maximum of 8.2m was more challenging than expected and we had to work through a number of design layouts,” Mr Hill said.

The main features of this vehicle are:

  • 15T Iveco Eurocargo 4×2 crew cab chassis with full Allison automatic transmission fitted with hydraulic retarder
  • 3,000-litre water tank
  • 2,500 litres per minute water pump
  • One 30m Ø25mm live hose reel
  • 200-litre Class B and 50-litre Class A foam capability
  • Full stowage inventory

The prototype is expected to tour Victoria in late 2020.

“We hope that many volunteers are able to have a close look at the vehicle when it’s in their area,” Mr Hill said. “We look forward to their feedback.”

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