NT Fights Back with ISUZU Trucks
Before its official establishment in 1926, the Northern Territory Fire & Rescue Service (NTFRS) was known as the ‘bucket brigade’; a volunteer fire service, which protected buildings, homes and property.
Today NTFRS has over 40 Isuzu trucks. These include models from the latest ranges, an NQR 450 and FTR 900 to much earlier examples, all of which are specially fitted out as tankers, rescue vehicles and hazardous material clean-up units.
Tankers and rescue trucks carry a variety of gear onboard depending on the main purpose of the vehicle. Equipment can range from rubber and canvas hoses to knapsack sprays and hand tools, fire fighting foam, breathing apparatus, chainsaws and hydraulic rescue tools, global positioning systems, GRN and VHF radios, rescue stretchers, generators, lighting equipment, and of course pumps and water tanks.
Isuzu has worked with the NTFRS for more than two decades. This long and successful partnership has been based on Isuzu’s reputation for reliability and strong performance, according to Jock McLeod, Senior Station Officer based in Darwin.
“We have a fleet of Isuzu trucks which date from 1994 to the current range; despite some models being more than 10 years old their performance is still extremely good,” he said.
“There is an Isuzu truck in every major fire station in the Northern Territory and the reason for that is the fact that Isuzu trucks are reliable,” Jock said.
The latest acquisition is an Isuzu FTR 900 crew cab fitted with the automated manual transmission, specified as a fire truck. Jock is always the first to drive any of the new trucks.
“I have driven every new truck in our fleet from the bodybuilder in Ballarat, Victoria to fire stations in the Northern Territory,” he said.
“The latest trucks are like driving a Commodore. The seats for the drivers are excellent … things are easy to reach and read.”
He also added that the feedback from the drivers was very good.
“The NTFRS only has 165 permanent staff, including support and administrative officers,” Jock said.
“Most of the front line work of keeping our territory’s residents safe from bush, industrial and domestic fires is carried out by around 250 volunteer fire fighters and 54 part-time staff.
“In remote areas, volunteer fire fighters are the backbone of our organisation, as they are often called to assist professional fire fighters in rescue, motor vehicle accidents, natural disasters and fires.”
The responsibility of keeping 1.35 million square kilometres of country safe is huge and there is no margin for error and or an errant truck. Reliability is very important in emergency services work particularly when there is a large geographic area to be covered and a wide range of services to provide.
NTFRS’ Isuzus in service must attend all types of rescues including road accidents, chemical spills, industrial accidents, structure fires, as well as grass and bush fires. These can be in diverse locations extending from the northern reaches of the Tiwi Islands to the southern deserts.
“On average a truck might only do about 3000 kilometres per year, but when we need them, we want them there, so reliability is a must, there are no second chances for a fire truck,” Jock said.