New tanker, big advantages

Castlemaine CFA brigade captain Terry Franklin with Darryn Cutlack and Brody Cutlack and the brigade's new high tech tanker.

Castlemaine CFA brigade captain Terry Franklin with Darryn Cutlack and Brody Cutlack and the brigade's new high tech tanker.

Within just hours of being brought on line Castlemaine's new high-tech fire tanker had been deployed to a shed fire.

And this week, before the fire season has even started, the new tanker was repeatedly deployed to help neighbouring CFA crews fight a series of fires that broke out within hours of each other on Wednesday afternoon.

It all points to a particularly busy looming fire season which is expected to officially come into effect on Monday, November 20.

With two of this Wednesday's fires - one at Harcourt and one off Maldon Road at McKenzie Hill - the result of burn-offs escaping control, Castlemaine CFA captain Terry Franklin is urging all local residents to think twice before embarking on a burn-off.

"We'd like people to seriously think twice before beginning a burn-off and to consider using another means of cleaning up at this stage," Mr Franklin said.

He said Wednesday afternoon's series of local fires included a fire that threatened an outhouse before being brought under control after it broke out in grassland behind a house in Baxter Street, Maldon.

CFA investigators were expected to be looking into the cause of that fire yesterday, while another of Wednesday afternoon's four fires, a small and quickly contained bushfire in the Sawmill Road area, had also been examined by a CFA fire investigator.

In each case Castlemaine CFA's new state-of-the-art tanker had been used to support other local CFA brigades, after being brought on line for use a couple of Sundays ago.

The new 15 tonne Iveco heavy tanker is one of only 10 or so of its type now available for use throughout the state.

Featuring a 4000-litre water carrying capacity and a high-tech computerised monitoring system which enables firefighters to monitor and fight fires while inside the cabin, the new 4WD tanker is expected to make life easier for Castlemaine firefighters this season which is shaping up to be demanding.

The new tanker joins a new trailer pump that the brigade secured a couple of months ago to replace a 50-year-old pump.

Castlemaine's good news is also good news for the neighbouring Chewton brigade which has inherited Castlemaine's previous tanker that had a water carrying capacity of 3000 litres.

"The way things are drying out with the growth at the moment, they're forecasting a busy season," Mr Franklin said.

"As far as restrictions go they haven't given us a date yet but people need to start planning now. Our message is we're ready. Are you?"