ACT Fire and Rescue's 44-metre tall Bronto aerial appliance was out of action and unable to help fight a city fire, raising further questions as to whether Canberra has sufficient specialised platforms to fight a major high-rise fire.
Firefighters attending a blaze on the 12th floor of the construction site for the new, upmarket Founders Lane residential complex in Canberra on Monday afternoon were unable to use the $1.5 million Bronto but instead used a conventional tanker and walked their hoses up 12 flights of stairs.
While the firefighters quickly quelled the two-storey blaze and mopped up within a few hours, the incident has again highlighted the problem of having just one Bronto platform capable of reaching high enough to fight a major high rise fire and provide a vital safety support for firefighters entering a burning building.
The proliferation of high-rise apartment blocks across Canberra, including the 22-storey Infinity Towers in Gungahlin, has stepped up the need for appropriate fire-fighting platforms.
Tenders closed Tuesday on a new aerial pumper for ACT Fire and Rescue but with the long lead times for delivery and preparation, it could be as much as nine months before it officially hits the road in Canberra.
ESA Commissioner Dom Lane said that the purchase and commissioning of this important second appliance is a priority for the agency.
Meanwhile, the sole Bronto platform in Canberra is off the road for an indeterminate time. Fire and Rescue said it was having its scheduled quarterly service, and the opportunity was also being taken to diagnose a recurring electrical fault.
The ACT has an arrangement whereby it can borrow an appliance from another fire service but this time the usual loan could not be sourced from Melbourne's Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
The need for a second Bronto in Canberra was highlighted as far back as 2016, when two fires broke out at once, and both required specialised platforms.
While the CSIRO has a Bronto truck at its Deep Space Communications facility at Tidbinbilla, it doesn't have the range of capabilities required by modern fire-fighting standards and is 90 minutes away from Canberra by road.