From Wandilo to Linton

- Lessons learned from an indepth analysis of 40 years of Australian Bushfire Tanker Burnovers.

The following is reprinted here with the permission of the author Bruce Paix and is a reproduction of the paper presented at the International Association of Wildland Fire 3rd Annual Safety Summit, Sydney Australia, 2-5 Nov 1999.


The burnover of the Geelong West Tanker at Linton in 1998, with the loss of 5 crew, has sparked a widespread review of Tanker protection by Australian fire services. Much of the interest has focussed on "active defense" of the vehicle using hoselines and sprinklers. This paper examines all known fire tanker burnover incidents in Australia, including 5 cases in which "active defenses" were used. These cases, and a theoretical calculation of the thermal energy loading experienced during a tanker burnover, suggest that the level of protection afforded by active defenses is limited, hence attention to passive safety features is also required. Also discussed are a variety of vulnerabilities identified with existing tanker designs. In many cases these deficiencies, and their solutions, have been repeatedly identified in the past. Despite this, existing tanker designs continue to include unnecessary faults, and modern truck construction may be introducing new problems. Recognition of these deficiencies will allow significant improvements in vehicular resistance to fire with modest cost.

  1. From Wandilo to Linton, lessons learned from an indepth analysis of 40 years of Australian Bushfire Tanker Burnovers
  2. Table One - Chronology of Burnover Incidents in Australia
  3. Appendix One - A theoretical calculation of the minimum water requirements for self defense sprinkler systems during fire tanker burnovers


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Bruce Paix, MB BS B Med Sc (hons).

Captain, Macclesfield Brigade, South Australian Country Fire Service.
Box 72 ECHUNGA 5153 Australia.

Last updated 4 November 2014