Pumping up the volume of water

THE Tasmania Fire Service officially unveiled two new heavy pumpers yesterday, boosting preparations for the forecast increased fire risk this weekend.

One of the new state-of-the-art fire engines is at the Launceston Fire Station, while the other is at Glenorchy.

Launceston station officer Mark Ciantar said crews were impressed with the capabilities of the new fire truck in its first two weeks of service.

He estimated that   it could pump 5000 litres of water a minute, the highest capacity across the TFS fleet, and was ideal for urban fires.

Mr Ciantar said the truck had already performed as expected at half a dozen house fires.

 The new pumper meant that one of Launceston's previous appliances had been relocated to the  Rocherlea Fire Station, to boost road accident and rescue capability in the northern suburbs and neighbouring brigade areas.

TFS chief officer Mike Brown said warm to hot weather was expected across the next three days.

He warned people to remain alert, because the conditions would increase the fire danger in many areas, especially on Sunday.

``We are now in the traditional peak of our fire season,'' Mr Brown said.

Today marks the 47th anniversary of Tasmania's disastrous Black Tuesday bushfires, when 62 people were killed and more than 2000 homes were destroyed, and is also the fifth anniversary of the Victorian Black Saturday bushfires that killed 173 people and destroyed 2029 houses.

Mr Brown said a total fire ban was possible on Sunday, dependent on weather conditions.

Emergency Management Minister David O'Byrne said yesterday that the TFS would soon advertise to fill 15 trainee firefighter positions.

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