Last summer’s horrific bushfire season was a shock to the nation. Lasting longer, and burning bigger areas, exactly like what happened in California over their Spring and Summer period. The fire season was a wake-up call to the Federal and all State Governments. A number of lessons were learnt but one particular factor seems to have escaped even the Royal Commission.
To fight fires, our brilliant and courageous firefighting volunteers need a ready supply of water. Many of last year’s fires were in coastal areas where limitless amounts of water were available from lakes, rivers or estuaries. One Australian company, Australian Pump, has worked diligently to produce a range of firefighting pumps designed for handling brackish water and even seawater.
“Observations of some of our staff on the south coast of New South Wales on New Year’s Eve, 2019, were that the brigades had trouble keeping up the supply of water to the attack vehicles. Photos taken show a collection of tankers lined up to supply water at the Burrill Lake staging centre. The tankers from Roads and Maritime Services as well as individual farmers and contractors came to support the volunteers as they fought those fires.
“What was missing was vessels from Ulladulla Harbour, Nowra or Batemans Bay equipped with pumps suitable for fighting fire from the sea or estuaries”, said Aussie Pumps’ Chief Engineer, John Hales.
The company began designing and building unique seawater fire pumps based on requirements from Naval fleets around the world. The pumps are now used for both fire and salvage from the New South Wales Police Department to Bangladesh, Korean and more recently the Malaysian Navy. It’s a great Aussie success story the National Parks and bushfire authorities around the country could pick up on to provide a major untapped resource for bushfire fighting.
The products are mainly diesel drive and go from lightweight portable fire pumps with 4.8 hp Yanmar diesels to far bigger machines from Aussie Brigade Boss range, featuring heads up to 70 m and flows of up to 1,500 lpm. These big pumps, equipped with bronze impellers and volutes, provide the capacity to pump seawater at high pressure and high volume.
The pump’s body, constructed from marine grade aluminium, is coated with a black epoxy paint to protect it from wear and abrasion of pumping water that could have some solids. A sacrificial anode is fitted to each pump and frames, originally hot dipped galvanised steel, are now produced in stainless steel.
Using big pumps to fight fires from the sea should not be a particularly original idea. Quite the contrary, in a country where 85% of the population lives within 40 km of the coast, protecting villages and hamlets like the Burrill Lake and Batemans Bay should be considered to be very obvious resources. Aussie’s saltwater, self priming fire pumps were christened as the “Aussie Sea Skipper” range.
For more information, go to www.aussiepumps.com.au