Appeal for light tanker

Lara CFA firefighters Graeme Toll, Liam Brossett, Julia Ferguson and Grace Tuisku are fundraising for a ultra-light tanker (inset). (Louisa Jones) 211353_01

By Luke Voogt

Lara CFA has launched a fundraiser for a new ultra-light tanker amid an increasing fire risk for the town, according to brigade captain Roger Buckle.

This year’s wet winter would increase grass growth, leading to more fuel for fires this summer, Mr Buckle said.

“When we have a wet winter, we have a lot more fuel and we have larger grassfires, but they move slower, typically.

“No matter what we have in Lara, we have a fire risk, always. We’re on the northern edge of Geelong and we get slammed by northerly winds.”

Population growth, particularly in new estates near farmland, and hotter, drier summers were also increasing the risk, Mr Buckle said.

The increased population made grassfires, such as the one that burnt 1260 hectares in neighbouring town Little River in 2018, more dangerous, he said.

Increasingly-complex boundaries between urban and rural areas and more obstacles such as fences, gates and parks limited access, Mr Buckle explained.

He said a fire-risk analysis determined a need for an ultra-light tanker to fight fires in areas that the brigade’s larger tankers could not reach.

“It’s very difficult to get a large grassfire-fighting tanker into the smaller areas.

“If we can’t get into those smaller areas the fire will just continue on.”

Lara CFA volunteers launched a campaign to raise $148,000 to purchase an ultra-light tanker just before Victoria’s recent COVID-19 spike.

With volunteers already unable to collect in-person, the recent spike had further impeded their efforts, fundraising co-ordinator Gary Bascomb said.

“It’s not an easy year for fundraising.”

Lara District Community Bank contributed $20,000 to the fundraiser and has pledged to donate $1 for every $3 raised, up to $30,000.

Bisinella Developments contributed $25,000, leaving about $78,000 for the brigade to raise.

Two vehicles at the brigade were deployed to Mallacoota at the height of the Victorian bushfires in January.

More recently, one of the vehicles has assisted with COVID-19 testing in Sunshine West.

“That’s what the CFA’s about – people turn up and help each other out,” Mr Bascomb said.

To donate search ‘Lara CFA’ on Facebook.

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