Parks and Wildlife bolsters fire fleet

THE Parks and Wildlife Service has bolstered its vehicle fleet and fire crew members for this year's fire season.

Parks Minister Brian Wightman unveiled five new fire vehicles, worth $90,000 each, in Launceston yesterday and announced that two new six- person crews would be put on the ground at Scottsdale and Ulverstone this summer.

He said the new parks employees were mostly Forestry Tasmania workers transferred to the department as the government-owned business underwent restructure.

The move doubles the combined fire crew personnel for the two towns from 12 to 24.

Mr Wightman said these crews added to 10 parks staff trained to respond to bushfires and 14 staff trained in incident management.

"On days of very high fire danger, the PWS fire crews will be pre-deployed strategically across the state to locations considered most at risk or where arsonists are thought to be active," he said.

The five new vehicles are in addition to nine others in the department's fire vehicle fleet.

The new Toyota Landcruisers carry twice the amount of water than the older cars in an 800-litre tank.

"Obviously we've learnt a lot from the January bushfires ... so what we are doing here is adding to the resources that we have to make sure that if there are fires, we are able to respond to those as best we can," Mr Wightman said.

He said parks staff were involved in fire preparation all year round, which included back- burning programs and fire trail maintenance.

Mr Wightman denied the staff and vehicle fleet boost came too close to the start of bushfire season.

He said back-burning operations for spring and autumn had been delayed by a prolonged summer in March and high rainfall over spring.

"Burns are totally dependent on weather conditions," Mr Wightman said.

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