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Victoria bolsters firefighting fleet with new heavy tanker

The Victorian Government will be rolling out a new fleet of state-of-the-art heavy tanker firefighting trucks ahead of the upcoming summer fire season.

Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change, Lily D’Ambrosio, has said the new fleet of ‘Unimogs’ is part of the state government’s $32 million upgrade of Victorian firefighting vehicles.

The Unimog is an all-terrain vehicle housed on a Mercedes-Benz Unimog cab chassis and is fitted with equipment designed for Forest Fire Management Victoria’s firefighting and planned burning needs.

It will become a core firefighting heavy tanker – featuring a range of safety features including in-vehicle hose monitors, a cabin deluge system for crew protection, fire curtains and Falling Object Protection System (FOPS).

The Unimogs have a water-carrying capacity of 4,000 litres and are built to accommodate four firefighters – double the capacity of the existing heavy tanker.

“The Unimog runs a 4.8-litre four cylinder turbo diesel (OM924LA) that generates 220hp of power and 810Nm of torque and features a two-stage engine brake,” said a Daimler Truck and Bus spokesperson. “It has selectable four-wheel-drive and an eight-speed gearbox with a low-range transfer case with an additional eight gears. The Unimog also features portal axles for maximum clearance in difficult terrain.”

Final vehicle design and composition has reportedly followed a comprehensive field-testing program of different types of vehicles, terrain and equipment.

Forest firefighting crews will have 21 Unimogs at their disposal this fire season, according to the Victorian Government, marking the first stage of the rollout of a new heavy tanker fleet. A further 20 vehicles are due to join the fleet in 2018.

The Unimog project has also created 34 jobs within Quik Corp, who oversaw the fire appliance body builds, withvnearly half of the jobs going to redundant workers from the car and manufacturing industries.

The Unimog upgrade is in addition to the overhaul of the ultra-light firefighting fleet over the next three years.

“These state-of-the-art vehicles were designed right here in Victoria to keep our communities as well as our brave forest firefighters safe this summer,” said D’Ambrosio. “These vehicles will be critical in fire suppression, planned burns, emergency response, as well road network and recreation site maintenance.”

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