At 6.19pm last evening Woodend was called to a grass and scrub fire that was spreading rapidly into large gum trees. Woodend FCV, T1 and T2 turned out along with tankers from Tylden and Trentham. On arrival it was immediately obvious that our new Tanker 1 could literally not get down the long driveway to the scene of the fire, as the driveway was seriously overgrown. Tanker 2 managed to scrape through, but not before the passenger side window was shattered when a branch hit the window. The FCV was able to fit … just. The photos taken this morning clearly show that a normal SUV was barely able to fit through the trees covering the driveway, so what hope to big trucks have? There was also a low hanging cable connecting the electric fences on either side of the driveway.
Imagine if it was the lovely house that was on fire and we had long delays in getting trucks to the scene. Or, we were simply unable to get there quickly!
Ironically, we featured in an article in the Midland Express newspaper only a few weeks ago, about exactly this problem. For the benefit of everyone (especially those with overgrown driveways) we share that information again.
IS THERE ROOM FOR A FIRE TRUCK AT YOUR HOUSE?
Another way a truck can be delayed in getting to a fire, is if a gate or driveway is too narrow or overgrown.
The Woodend CFA has an excellent record in turning out to fires and other incidents in our region. However, during recent inspections of the area it was discovered that a lot of properties do not have safe access for fire trucks to get close to the house or other important assets. In fact, at one property we were unable to get down the driveway.
In fact, at one recent fire the driveway was so overgrown we had to gain access from a neighbouring property. Such delays of several seconds, or more likely minutes, can make a huge difference.
Fire trucks are very large vehicles, especially our new Heavy Tanker, and they need room to enter your driveway and somewhere to turn around. A driveway needs at least a 4 by 4 metre clearance and adequate access through gates. Bridges, culverts and drain overpasses on private land also need to be able to carry the weight of a fire truck, which can be over 14 tonnes.
We are always asking people to clear their properties of fuel to reduce the risk of fire, but good access is another prime responsibility of rural property owners.