Custom fire fighting equipment never before seen in the Latrobe Valley was on display last week as part of a field demonstration at Loy Yang A. photographs sam darroch
The threat of fire to critical infrastructure, such as our coal mines, is one the Latrobe Valley knows all too well.
But new technology on show at Loy Yang A last week could provide peace of mind for owners and operators of the region's industrial assets.
Fire protection and safety company Falck staged a field demonstration by the coal face to show off its tailor-made firefighting apparatus which could soon be adopted in the Valley.
Two high volume monitor trailers, one capable of flowing 8000 litres per minute, the other 24,000L, splashed out in an impressive exhibition on Thursday to a curious crowd of industry and emergency service personnel.
The custom-made equipment is capable of blanketing huge surface areas and can create artificial weather conditions to quell fire quickly, using foam and water from distances of up to 130 metres away.
Falck director Jonathon Silbert said the gear was designed to reduce the resources required to fight fires and protect personnel.
"What's really important is we're able to attack a fire front or hazard from a safe distance," Mr Silbert said.
"It means our team will fatigue less, we need less people on the team, we don't need to rotate our staff, so we've got reduced manning from a much safer distance with this technology."
Already established in the region for the past 25 years, Falck has a presence in mines, power stations, food processing and electricity generation.
Mr Silbert said the company had invested heavily in the area in the past 18 months and hoped to continue providing solutions on the ground.
"It is peace of mind; at Falck we're very interested in investing in a fire response package that we can work with industry to put here in the Latrobe Valley," he said.
"While people may not have the capital to invest in a full spread, Falck is looking to do that in conjunction with our clients and allow them to rent or buy access into the service, which means we'll have equipment in the Valley that's never been here before with a much better response time."
One of the operators on the day was experienced firefighter Michael Sorensen, who is Asia Pacific Middle East manager for Williams Hazard and Fire Control.
The bigger apparatus, the Ambassador, can pump out 24,000 litres per minute at a range of 100-130 metres.
Mr Sorensen said the specialised equipment on show was a far cry from anything currently available in the Valley and could go a long way to protecting infrastructure.
"You need unique equipment because this is a unique environment to manage that resource and make sure it's protected," he said.
"From discussions with the CFA they're very interested in being able to utilise it, but that comes down resource availability and industry committing to it as well."