The Country Fire Service (CFS) of South Australia has successfully trialed Allison automatic equipped Isuzu 4×4 and 6×4 rural fire trucks to make driving safer and easier in bush fire situations.

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The CFS in South Australia currently has one Hino GT and six Isuzu FTS 800 4×4 trucks on its state-wide fleet, along with 14 Isuzu FVZ 1400 6×4 trucks helping fire fighters protect property across one of this country’s most bush fire prone states.

According to Sandy Patterson, the manager of Vehicles and Equipment for the South Australian CFS, the addition of the Allison equipped fire trucks has demonstrated important benefits in terms of safer operation, reduced driver fatigue and overall ease of driving in an emergency situation.

Now click below to hear what Sandy thinks of the Allison trucks…

Speaking to Tachoblog he said, “Automatics are a real advantage in a bush fire brigade situation where we have a large number of drivers who may not be familiar with different vehicles and controls or where we have a wide range of driver experience and skills,” said Sandy Patterson.

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“The Automatics are better and faster from a cold start up which is important when the brigade is responding to an urgent emergency fire call.

“They are also easier and safer to operate at a slow walking pace which is a situation that often arises with a bush fire where fire fighters are walking alongside the truck extinguishing grass fires and embers, during back burns and while mopping up after a fire has passed through,” he said.

“The other area where the Allison automatics have excelled is in an emergency situation where drivers don’t have to worry about gear changes and can keep both hands on the wheel for better control of the truck, enabling them to concentrate on getting to the fire situation faster and safer,” he added.

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South Australia’s vastly arid outback regions pose many challenges for bush fire fighters, not the least being the many sandy tracks through semi-desert areas across the state. The CFS automatic Isuzu and Hino 4×4 dual cab trucks weigh in at 12.5 tonnes with a crew of six, a 3000 litre water tank, fire fighting pumps and equipment on board.

“In sandy conditions, the automatics work much better than a manual with less chance of the truck being stuck in the soft sand. In an emergency situation, this is vital,” Patterson added.

The SA Country Fire Service (CFS) is a volunteer based, fire and emergency service dedicated to protecting life, property and environmental assets in regional and semi-metropolitan South Australia.

It supports approximately 15,000 volunteers and has a permanent staff of 110, providing a range of fire and emergency services to more than 434 communities across the state and operates a fleet of more than 800 vehicles.