This circular was issued to all N.S.W. Fire Control Officers on 30 November 1999

Reprinted here with permission from:

John Winter
Senior Media Officer
NSW Rural Fire Service


N.S.W. R.F.S. CIRCULAR 48/99

VEHICLE WATER SPRAY PROTECTION SYSTEMS

BACKGROUND

Due to the inherent risk associated with entrapment of fire service crews and vehicles whilst undertaking fire suppression operations in bush and grassland, the NSW Rural Fire Service in 1984 commenced the installation of vehicle water spray protection devices for newly constructed tankers. A variety of other spray systems have also been installed on tankers by brigades.Concerns have been expressed about the effectiveness of these spray systems in an entrapment situation of high wind and high temperatures.

It must be emphasised that the Service relies on disciplined implementation of Standard Operating Procedures for safe and efficient action on the fireground, but accepts that protection of fire tanker crews in their tankers may be necessary as a "last resort" in an emergency situation.

CURRENT SITUATION

Incidents in New South Wales and Victoria in 1998 where rural firefighters lost their lives due to fire over runs has brought the concerns to a head.As a result, the NSW Rural Fire Service has commenced a series of trials and tests in conjunction with the CSIRO to determine, as far as is practical, the operating parameters of the existing vehicle spray protection systems and a number of hybrid nozzles and systems developed by various members and brigades over the years.

The research performed to date can be considered preliminary in nature and will be used to develop a more comprehensive research program.Such a program will be expedited to develop an effective spray protection system and determine the parameters that affect its performance.

The first stage of the vehicle spray protection system testing is now complete and the following conclusions and recommendations are provided.

TEST CONCLUSIONS

STAGE 1 RECOMMENDATIONS

Yours sincerely

Tony Howe
Assistant Commissioner
Operations Support