The United Firefighters Union ACT (UFU ACT) has questioned the ACT Government’s decision to develop an electric fire truck when “a number of other pressing resourcing issues have not been resolved”.
“We are calling for the government to commit to a long-term plan to resource our fire services to improve firefighter and community safety. Whether this announcement fits with such a plan remains to be seen,” UFU ACT Branch Secretary Greg McConville said.
The UFU ACT would like to see an increase to the number of firefighters in the next four years to approximately 472, from the current reported level of 348, as well as a comprehensive health and wellbeing initiative, and mandatory skills assessments every three years.
“These are our three big ticket items,” Mr McConville said. “More firefighters, improved health and wellbeing, and the best training we can get. The community deserves no less.”
An ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) spokesperson said they are currently negotiating the ACT Fire & Rescue (ACTF&R) Enterprise Agreement, where these matters are being discussed.
Meantime, the ESA is encouraging ACTF&R firefighters and UFU ACT members to participate in the feasibility work to inform future development of the hybrid fire truck.
The ACT Government announced the partnership with Rosenbauer, to work towards an Australian-first plug-in hybrid electric fire truck, on Wednesday 28 August.
“The ACT Government is pleased to be a foundation partner with Rosenbauer to refine the Australian compliant specification,” the ESA spokesperson said. “This is an incredible opportunity and provides an important first step towards supporting the transitioning to zero emissions within the ACT ESA vehicle fleet.”
The transition to a single electric fire truck would see a reduction of diesel fuel consumption by approximately 185,000 litres and a reduction of engine oil disposal by approximately 400 litres over a 10-year period.
The ACT Government has not made a decision around the purchase of the fire truck once it has been designed.
“Any such decision is subject to a feasibility study that will be undertaken to investigate the truck’s whole-of-life benefits for the ACT community,” the spokesperson said. “The input and advice of front-line fighters will be front and centre of any purchase.”
It is anticipated that a Concept Fire Truck will not be commercially available in Australia until 2022.