Faulty firetruck replacements affecting Ballarat fireys

UFU Shop Steward and Ballarat leading firefighter Matt MacGillivray says Ballarat City Fire Station (FRV 67) has had issues with its permanent and temporary ladder platforms. Picture by Adam Trafford An ageing fleet of fire trucks continues to plague Ballarat’s firefighters, with a temporary replacement vehicle sent out also having issues.

The United Firefighters Union is continuing its call for vehicles past their used by date to be replaced and to ensure temporary replacement vehicles are also fit for use. Ballarat City FRV Station 67’s ladder platform is about 20 years old and is overdue for replacement according to UFU Shop Steward Matt MacGillivray, who is also a leading firefighter

The union has been calling on the permanent ladder platform to be replaced for some time. “The issue that we’re having is it’s breaking down reasonably regularly,” MacGillivray said. “We’ve had issues with some of the controls like the cage being able to move from left to right. The cage is that little area that we stand in at the top of a ladder platform.” He said the problem meant crews could not “square up” to a building properly if they were attempting to conduct a rescue, putting it “in a lot more of a risky position”. MacGillivray said the truck is usable, but with limited capacity.

Jacinta Allan says old fire trucks aren’t falling apart Crews have also had issues with the truck’s stabilisers, which are deployed when the ladder is used.

Recently, during regular morning checks, hydraulic pressure was lost in the front stabilisers meaning the use of the ladder, also known as ‘”flying” was impacted. “The front passenger side stabiliser had started leaking hydraulic pressure, so that actually started losing pressure and creeping down,” Mr MacGillvray said.

“It (the truck) needs to be fully o! the ground, and to be safe to ‘fly’ it needs to be within half a degree of level.
“As the stabiliser started ‘sinking’ that dragged us outside of those safe parameters to be able to fly … we ended up losing all controls.”

Mr MacGillivray said the crew had to used both manual overrides and backup systems to get the truck into a safer position. “It pushed to the edge of our training … (the truck) could have ended up in danger of tipping,” he said.

Mr MacGillvray said to lose two hydraulic stabilisers at the same time was a rare occurrence. The truck has been offline for about a week and a half while it is looked at and repaired. “It’s not quite an overnight fix,” he said.