A project by South Australian Country Fire Service received a 2007 National Safety Award at the Safe Work Australia Awards in Canberra.
Based around an innovative technology that provides fire fighters inside a fire vehicle with breathable air during a burn-over, the Crew Protection System won the award for the Best Solution to an Identified Workplace Health and Safety Issue. The South Australian Country Fire Service worked with both Wormald and Scott Health & Safety in the design of a major component of the Crew Protection System.
While modern fire-fighting vehicles provide increased protection to their occupants from fire, materials used inside the cabin can potentially release toxic fumes under extreme heat conditions.
The Pro-Cab Emergency Air System is specifically designed for rural and regional fire brigades, to provide personal respiratory and flame protection for multiple users in hazardous conditions such as a vehicle burn-over.
The emergency air system supplies one to seven users simultaneously with clean, breathable air, providing a safeguard from toxic gases. The system gives individuals protection from flames via flame-retardant air hoods, coupled with flame resistant supply hoses and pneumatics.
It is activated by simply turning on the cylinder valve for a constant flow of clean, breathable air individually supplied to each wearer.
Arthur Tindall, CFS Manager Infrastructure and Logistics, said the whole Crew Protection System, which incorporates a range of innovations, was developed to improve fire fighters’ chances of survival when trapped in extremely dangerous bushfire conditions.
"On the wall of my office I have a photo of a burnt-out fire truck. Unfortunately five volunteer firefighters lost their lives on that truck whilst protecting the community. I leave the photo there as a daily reminder of my responsibility to volunteers, our unpaid workforce,” said Mr Tindall.
“Bushfires are somewhat like wild animals in so much that they are unpredictable and can bite without warning. The subject of the work that we have done is to give our volunteers one last chance when all else fails and we sincerely hope they never have to use it,” he said.
Keith Gillespie, National Product Manager, Wormald Life Safety & Rescue, said the award commended the CFS’s dedication to ensuring their volunteers’ safety.
“We are incredibly proud to have been part of this award. The Country Fire Service came to us with a vision for improving their crews’ safety and it was a challenge we were only too happy to take up,” said Mr Gillespie.
“Creating the right solution for these extreme conditions has certainly been a challenge – it has taken four years to get it right. We are delighted that the CFS has been recognised for its commitment to crew safety,” said Mr Gillespie.
The Pro-Cab Emergency Air System is manufactured by Scott Health & Safety, UK, and distributed in Australia through Wormald, a business unit of Tyco International’s Fire & Security segment. Other applications for the Pro-Cab Emergency Air System include forestry, personnel carriers, underground mine escape, armoured vehicles and mining vehicles.